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Annan condemns Hezbollah shelling Israel

Annan condemns Hezbollah shelling Israel, urges restraint by all parties

Strongly condemning Hezbollah's shelling of Israel from Lebanon, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged all governments with influence over the group to "deter it from any further actions which could increase the tension in the area" and called upon the Israeli Government to exercise utmost restraint.

The Secretary-General's Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, met with Lebanese Foreign Minister Jean Obeid today to discuss the serious situation along the Blue Line, separating the two countries.

"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the current escalation in the area and calls upon all parties involved to fully respect the Blue Line," Mr. Annan said in a statement released yesterday.

Hezbollah's shelling, which killed a 16-year-old Israeli and wounded four other civilians in the town of Shlomi, "represents a serious violation of the Blue Line and of Security Council's resolutions," Mr. Annan added.

The statement was the Secretary-General's second expression of concern over rising tension along the Blue Line in three days. On Friday he urged "the parties involved to avoid further actions which will increase the tensions in this sensitive and volatile area" following a Hezbollah-initiated exchange of fire at the eastern end of the line.

Mr. de Mistura told reporters after his meeting in Beirut that the UN was appealing to all sides to stop a potential escalation, both in anti-aircraft fire from Lebanon and in overflights from Israel.

He noted that both activities were wrong, but added that "they are not equivalent," since the anti-aircraft fire from Lebanon yesterday resulted in the first civilian victim since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon three years ago.

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