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Stabilization Force Would Give Lebanese Govt. Time

STABILIZATION FORCE WOULD GIVE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT TIME TO ORGANIZE – ANNAN

New York, Jul 18 2006 2:00PM

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that the stabilization force envisaged for violence-torn Lebanon would be much larger than the current 2,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force already in the south and would give the Government “time to organize and prepare” to extend its authority over all its territory.

“Obviously it’s a Council decision,” Mr. Annan told reporters in Brussels, where he is attending a pledging conference for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan, as he replied to questions about the proposal he first made yesterday with British Prime Minister for an action-oriented package of measures for ending the violence in Lebanon that included “a multi-national force of well-equipped troops that can go in quite quickly.”

Today, he said he hoped the Security Council would provide the new force with a different mandate that would allow it “to operate in the south and help stabilize the situation whilst it gives the Government of Lebanon time to organize itself.”

He added that he hoped that this would allow the Government “to extend its authority throughout the territory including the south, and then give also time for them to sort out the question of the disarmament of the militia.”

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been deployed in the area since 1978, when it was created to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore peace and security, and help the Lebanese Government restore its effective authority in the area. Israel completed its withdrawal in 2000.

In addition to his remarks on the stabilization force, Mr. Annan reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, as he shared the podium with European Union High Representative Javier Solana, whom he thanked for having gone to the Middle East to meet with the UN team led by Vijay Nambiar which is currently speaking to the parties.

“The situation is very urgent, and it is imperative that the international community acts to end the fighting,” Mr. Annan said.

TRANSCRIPT

Brussels, Belgium, 18 July 2006 - Press encounter with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

SG: Thank you very much. Good morning ladies and gentleman. I think the President of the Commission has said all that needs to be said. And I am extremely happy to be back here in Brussels.

And obviously like him I am extremely concerned about the developments on the ground in the Middle East and it is urgent that the international community acts to make a difference on the ground. And when I talk of action I am not talking of statements, exhortations, but really actual specific concrete action. That is one of the reasons why I propose that we do send in a stabilization force, that we do put forward a package for the Security Council to act on, urge the parties to accept it, and begin to move to put troops on the ground in the form of a stabilization force, and insist on cessation of hostilities.

I think we will now pause here and take your questions since we do not have too much time.

Q: Secretary-General, that stabilization force, I know that there are many details that have to be cleared, but how concrete can you get in describing the assignment of these soldiers whot might go in there especially also in relation to the forces that are there, the UNIFIL 2,000 soldiers. What will be the difference and so on? And secondly, what is being signalled to you from your European partners in regard to willingness to participate and to contribute?

SG: Let me say that you are right, that details will have to be worked out including the concept and the size of the force. I would expect a force that is considerably larger than the 2,000 force that is there. I would expect a force that will have a modified and a different concept of operation and with different capabilities. I would expect contributions from European countries and other countries from other regions. The Council will have to discuss this and define the specific mandate for one to be able to talk in more concrete terms.

With regards to my team on the ground, they are in Israel today talking with Israeli authorities. They had constructive discussions with the Lebanese Prime Minister and the Lebanese leadership. Now, they will be talking to the Israelis and if possible go back to Lebanon and then to Damascus. But they are trying to find a way of getting the parties to end the hostilities. They want to see the soldiers released, they want to see the Hezbollah shelling stop, they want to see the Israel shelling and bombardment stop, and they are in discussions with the parties. And since they are work is so ongoing I can not be more specific than that.

Q: One question for the Secretary-General on Kosovo. Secretary-General, how prepared are you to deal with an imposed solution on Kosovo knowing that there are some states like Russia who said that the United States doesn?t have the power to impose a solution. Thank you.

SG: We have not set out to impose a solution on Kosovo. That is why I have a special envoy former President Martti Ahtisaari, working as my mediator, and working with both parties, with Belgrade and Pristina, to find a solution and then he'll make a recommendation to the Security Council. So we are not on the verge, or anywhere near, imposing a solution. I would wait for the outcome of his work. And then we will make a judgment how to proceed.

ENDS

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