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Un Delegation Discusses Lebanon Situation

Un Delegation Discusses Lebanon Situation With Israeli Foreign Minister, Other Officials

A high-level United Nations delegation met Israel’s Foreign Minister and other senior officials today to discuss the issue of prisoners, an arms embargo, the lifting of the blockade of Lebanon and other issues relating to the Security Council resolution that led to the cessation of recent hostilities between Hizbollah and Israel.

The team, which arrived in Israel after meetings in Lebanon, was sent to the region to ><"">discuss ways of ><"Http://Www.Un.Org/News/Press/Docs/2006/Sc8808.Doc.Htm">implementing Security Council ><"">resolution 1701 and, after meeting Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, also held talks with the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's office, Defence Minister Amir Peretz, and Vice-Premier Shimon Peres.

“We have discussed a number of issues with the Foreign Minister; in particular, we discussed the prisoners’ issue…Further, we have discussed the necessity of implementing the Security Council resolution’s call for an arms embargo,” Terje Roed-Larsen, a senior member of the delegation, was quoted as saying after the meeting with thῥ Foreign Minister.

“We have in this context also discussed the lifting of the blockade in Lebanon, both of the land crossings, seaports and at the airports,” he said, adding that the delegation hoped that “in the very near future” this can start to be lifted, with the appropriate authorities of Lebanon taking full control of all of its borders.

Vijay Nambiar, Special Political Adviser to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, leads the delegation and in their meeting with the Foreign Minister, Mr. Roed-Larsen said “all matters related to the implementation, full implementation, of all provisions of Security Council resolution 1701,” had been discussed.

“The meeting today has been very constructive, very friendly and very forward-looking. We have reason to be hopeful that now there will be a full respect of the ceasefire and full support of all parties concerned for the full and total implementation of Security Council resolution 1701.”

Mr. Roed-Larsen also characterized the other meetings held today by the delegation, as well as those in Lebanon, as “very good,” adding that they had received “very constructive attitudes and suggestions from all parties we have been speaking to so far.”

The Council unanimously adopted resolution 1701 on 11 August, in which it called for an immediate cessation of hostilities – which went into effect on 14 August local time, the deployment of Lebanese troops and a significantly expanded UN peacekeeping presence across southern Lebanon as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the area.

In New York today, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 1701, which was given to its 15 members last Friday.

In the 13-page report, the Secretary-General says that he is “encouraged by the positive first steps” since the coming into effect of the cessation of hostilities a week ago, however he cautions that the situation remains “very fragile.”

“I call on all parties to do their utmost to ensure that the cessation of hostilities holds and to transform it into a durable ceasefire…I call on both the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel to work resolutely towards a long-term solution and a permanent ceasefire.”

Mr. Annan also says that a reinforced UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), as called for by the resolution, “is not going to wage war on any of the actors in the theatre,” but emphasizes its supporting role to the political process and the importance of negotiation.

“That political process, however, will need the kind of help, assistance and confidence that only a robust peacekeeping presence can provide, in support of the Government of Lebanon and its efforts to exercise its authority effectively throughout its territory.”


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