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SG Would Have Preferred Joint Probe on Post Attack

Annan Would Have Preferred Joint Probe With Israel Into Attack on UN Post – Letter

New York, Jul 31 2006 6:00PM

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told the Security Council that Israel will carry out its own investigation into the events that led to the deaths of four United Nations observers in southern Lebanon last week, but he would have preferred a joint UN-Israeli probe.

In a letter this weekend to the Council’s President for July, Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France, Mr. Annan said the tragic event at patrol base Khiyam along with the serious wounding of another observer two days before “have called into question whether United Nations peacekeeping personnel can be sufficiently protected in their current positions.”

For that reason, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), General Alain Pellegrini, has been delegated full authority regarding additional relocations of personnel under his command if it becomes necessary to better ensure their safety, according to the letter.

In regard to Israel’s probe into the deadly attack, the Mr. Annan said he had made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he would have preferred a joint investigation by the UN and Israel. In any case, he has stressed the need for Israel’s investigation to be comprehensive and for its results to be made public.

Mr. Annan said he asked, in particular, for information about the response of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to repeated warnings from the observers and UNIFIL that strikes were hitting close to the patrol base before it was destroyed.

“I was disturbed to learn that the patrol base and its surroundings have come under renewed fire from the IDF in the days following the incident of 25 July, which will undoubtedly have an effect on the investigation of the site that the UN will need to undertake shortly,” Mr. Annan added.

In an update today, UNFIL reported that two tank rounds from the Israeli side impacted directly on a UNIFIL position in the general area of Hula yesterday afternoon, causing extensive material damage, including the ammunition shelter, but no casualties.

ENDS

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