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Annan To Visit Middle East Regarding Truce

Annan To Visit Middle East To Try To Bolster Parties’ Compliance With Truce

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will head to the Middle East and Europe later this week in a trip designed to strengthen the situation in Lebanon and Israel following the formal cessation of hostilities there in the wake of the recent Security Council resolution.

Mr. Annan will travel first to Brussels to attend Friday’s meeting of European foreign ministers to promote contributions of troops to the expanded UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters today at UN Headquarters in New York.

The Secretary-General will then head to Lebanon and Israel to meet senior officials of both countries to encourage them to implement their commitments under Resolution 1701, adopted unanimously by the Council on 11 August to end the month-long conflict in the Middle East.

That resolution calls for both sides to “support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution” to the conflict while respecting several principles, including ensuring that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani river in southern Lebanon is free of any armed personnel and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed forces and UNIFIL.

Mr. Dujarric said Mr. Annan will also visit the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, and is likely to head to Syria and Iran as well, with the sequence of stops yet to be determined.

Responding to a question from reporters, Mr. Dujarric said the issue of Israel’s sea blockade of Lebanon would be raised during Mr. Annan’s visit, adding that it is important that Lebanon be able to use its ports freely so that commercial activity and regular traffic can resume.

In another development, the Secretary-General’s high-level delegation on the issue held talks today in Berlin with Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and other senior officials.

Mr. Annan’s Special Political Adviser Vijay Nambiar and his Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen have already visited Israel and Lebanon during their trip.

Ends

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