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Cablegate: Unifil: Dpko Emphasizes Diminishing Laf

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUCNDT #0649 2032311
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 212311Z JUL 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4658
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT IMMEDIATE 1430

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000649

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER KPKO UNSC LE
SUBJECT: UNIFIL: DPKO EMPHASIZES DIMINISHING LAF
CAPABILITIES

REF: USUN 616

1. (SBU) POL officers met with Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber,
DPKO Asia and Middle East division director, on July 21 to
discuss issues related to the implementation of UNSCR 1701.
Weisbrod-Weber said he wanted to reiterate the "very strong
statements" he made during the July 9 Security Council
consultations (reftel) regarding the redeployment of a large
number of Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) troops out of UNIFIL's
area of operations south of the Litani River. (Note: A
transcript of his remarks were e-mailed to IO/UNP. End
Note.) He stressed that DPKO and UNIFIL were concerned about
diminishing LAF capabilities in UNIFIL's AOR, noting that
UNIFIL's main mission is to support the LAF, which is
difficult to achieve when the LAF is overstretched and under
pressure to fulfill competing security responsibilities.

2. (SBU) Weisbrod-Weber said that out of approximately 400
total daily patrols, only around 20 are conducted jointly.
He emphasized that UNIFIL has had to reduce the number of
joint counter rocket-launching operations to six from a
planned ten per day. DPKO estimates that there are currently
fewer than 5,000 LAF troops in UNIFIL's AOR, down from a
starting size of roughly 9,000. The original assumption,
Weisbrod-Weber said, was that the LAF would supply
12,000-15,000 troops. Weisbrod-Weber wanted to see what
member states, including the USG, could do to support and
augment LAF capabilities. He also asked that member states
impress upon the Lebanese government the need to maintain its
commitment to the LAF deployment south of the Litani. (Note:
POL officers subsequently raised Weisbrod-Weber's concerns
with Lebanese DPR Caroline Ziade, who said she would refer
the issue to Beirut. End Note.)
Khalilzad

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