Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah
Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah speaking in Beirut, April 14, 2009. Photo by AP
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LONDON - The British Foreign Office on Thursday refused to condemn its ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, for posting a comment on her blog extolling Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who died this week.

Fadlallah, Lebanon's preeminent Shi'ite clergyman, was also an early mentor of Hezbollah.

"One of the privileges of being a diplomat is the people you meet; great and small, passionate and furious," Guy wrote, noting that "people in Lebanon like to ask me which politician I admire most." Her answer, she continued, is that one of the Lebanese who "impressed her" the most was Fadlallah, who made "an impact on everyone he meets."

Lebanon, she added, would be a poorer place for his death.

"The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace," she concluded.

Gavin Cook, press officer for Britain's minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said in a statement that Guy was only expressing her personal view of Fadlallah, "describing the man as she knew him."