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Lebanon: All Sides largely complied with cessation

All Sides Have ‘Largely Complied’ With Cessation Of Hostilities In Lebanon: Annan

New York, Sep 15 2006 6:00PM

Israel and Hizbollah have “largely complied” with the cessation of hostilities agreement that in mid-August ended more than a month of fighting in Lebanon, but while a start has been made toward broader peace in the region much still remains to be done, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report issued today.

In his latest report to the Security Council on resolution 1701 that ended the fighting, Mr. Annan points out that while there have been violations of the agreement, these have not been “of an offensive and hostile character,” apart from one severe incident when Israeli forces carried out a raid in eastern Lebanon on 19 August.

“Since my previous report of 18 August, the parties have largely complied with the cessation of hostilities. UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) has, however observed numerous minor incidents and violations in its area of operation.”

He adds that the “tragic 34-day conflict has thrown the region back into the instability that prevailed for decades” Stressing that security, stability and comprehensive peace remain the overarching goals, he said “a start has been made” while cautioning that “many other steps are required.”

Since the cessation of hostilities, the UN and other agencies have assisted Lebanon’s Government with needs assessments and other urgent tasks, while the humanitarian response has moved through early recovery efforts and short-term intervention to providing assistance to the estimated one million Lebanese who were displaced, the report notes.

Mr. Annan also points to “significant progress” regarding the gradual withdrawal of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and deployment of Lebanese troops, with UNIFIL playing the coordinating role between the two sides.

“A general understanding has been reached that the IDF will completely withdraw from Lebanese territory once UNIFIL strength is increased to 5,000 troops and the Lebanese army is ready to deploy at the full strength of 15,000 troops,” he notes in the report that was officially released today.

On Thursday, UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini said he expected all Israeli troops to have left southern Lebanon by the end of this month while in his report Mr. Annan said that a “second wave” of troops for the UN force was expected to arrive by mid-October as stipulated by resolution 1701 that allows for up to 15,000 UN personnel.

In his report, Mr. Annan again stresses the need for the “unconditional release” of the captured Israeli soldiers and the issue of Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel, while also reiterating that he has appointed an experienced facilitator to deal with these issues, although he again declined to give details.

The Secretary-General also highlights his recent talks in Syria, repeating that the President had pledged to work with the Lebanese authorities to secure their border. He also emphasizes that the disarming of Hizbollah required a political process and urges Lebanon’s Government to move ahead with this.

“I remain convinced that the disarming of Hizbollah and other militia should take place through a political process that will lead to the full restoration of the authority of the Government of Lebanon so that there will be no weapons or authority other than its own.”

The report also discusses the UN’s other assistance efforts in Lebanon, including helping with an interim naval force and clearing the masses of unexploded ordnance that litter the countryside and represent a “serious threat” to the deployment of the Lebanese troops and UNIFIL.

“These efforts have already resulted in the destruction of over 15,000 individual cluster munitions as well as hundreds of other unexploded ordnance.”

The Secretary-General reiterates that while “short-term measures” are now being put in place to ensure that the cessation of hostilities is converted into a permanent ceasefire, a sustainable long-term solution requires regional issues to be taken into account.

“In order to prevent a resurgence of violence and bloodshed, the underlying causes of conflict in the region must be addressed. Other crises cannot be ignored, especially in the occupied Palestinian territory, as they are all interlinked. Until the international community insists on a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, any one of these conflicts has the potential to erupt and engulf the entire region.

Ends

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