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Annan Urges All Sides To Respect Ceasefire

Visiting UN Force In Southern Lebanon, Annan Urges All Sides To Respect Ceasefire

Israel and Hizbollah must respect their ceasefire, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today during a visit to the headquarters of the United Nations force in southern Lebanon, where he also paid tribute to the hundreds of UN personnel who have lost their lives in the war-ravaged country.

Mr. Annan travelled to the south after meeting yesterday with Lebanese leaders in Beirut and on arriving at the base of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) at Naqoura, he was briefed on the latest situation by Force Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini and other senior staff.

“Both parties have to respect the ceasefire...Parties with complaints on the ground, they should come to General Pellegrini, not take matters into their own hands...It’s a bit like having a football match where one of the teams also attempts to play the referee. You cannot be a team in a football match and the referee at the same ῴime, he told reporters.

The Secretary-General also took part in a wreath laying ceremony to honour almost 300 UNIFIL staff who have been killed since the mission was set up in 1978, after which he visited several UN positions on the so-called Blue Line that separates Lebanon and Israel.

“This has been a great opportunity for me to come to Naqoura to thank the women and men of UNIFIL under the leadership of Major-General Alain Pellegrini for the wonderful work they have done,” Mr. Annan said.

“Since the UN came here, we have lost almost 300 people in the service of peace. During this recent crisis, General Pellegrini and his men were remarkable. They could all have asked us to be redeployed and to get them out of harms way but they knew that the time will come when they will be needed to help the civilian population.”

Mr. Annan headed next to Israel for the next stage of his shuttle diplomacy to bolster the Security Council resolution that ended the 34 days of fighting between Hizbollah and Israel on 14 August.

After meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora yesterday, Mr Annan urged Israel to immediately lift the blockade of Lebanon and also renewed his call for Hizbollah to free two Israeli soldiers, whose capture on 12 July triggered the fighting.

Ends

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