Thursday, August 27, 2009

UN force commander briefs Prime Minister-designate on southern Lebanon

20 August 2009 – The head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri today discussed the security situation in the country's south, and developments relating to the Security Council resolution that helped to end the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah. "I informed the Prime Minister-designate that we consider the security situation in south Lebanon as generally quiet and the parties reiterated their commitment to resolution 1701 and to upholding the cessation of hostilities," Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano said in a statement following the meeting.

Resolution 1701 calls for, among other things, renewed respect for the Blue Line separating the Lebanese forces and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the disarming of militias and an end to arms smuggling.

Among the tasks entrusted to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is monitoring the cessation of hostilities; accompanying and supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces as they deploy throughout the south; and extending assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

"I stressed to Mr. Hariri the importance of the good cooperation we have with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the necessity of continued support of the Government of Lebanon for our joint endeavour towards implementation of resolution 1701," said Maj.-Gen. Graziano.

Following his meeting with Mr. Hariri last week, the top UN envoy for Lebanon said he hopes that the country's new Government, when formed, will renew its commitment to, and fully carry out, resolution 1701.

Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, noted areas of progress in this regard, including the ongoing process of demarcating the Blue Line and last year's exchange of prisoners and remains between Hizbollah and Israel. But he added that the overall objectives of resolution 1701 – a permanent ceasefire and lasting solution – are yet to be achieved.

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