Lebanon is committed to UNIFIL
Lebanon, Politics, 5/11/2001
With the continued Israeli violations in South Lebanon, Lebanon continued its diplomatic moves which aim at implementing the recommendations submitted by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the UN Security Council in which he proposed to reduce the UN forces in South Lebanon UNIFIL with the fall of July next year.
On Thursday, the Lebanese President Emil Lahoud received a report on the results of the contacts held by Lebanon's permanent representative at the UN Salim al-Tadmuri in which he debated Lebanon's position towards this issue.
Al-Tadmuri had earlier handed Annan a message including the Lebanese official position on the need of enabling UNIFIL carrying out its complete role and to keep its full number in South Lebanon the same before the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from South Lebanon in May 2000.
This very issue was also debated between the speaker of the Lebanese parliament Nabih Berri and Steven De Mitsora, the personal representative of the UN Security Council.
In a statement following the meeting De Mitsora said that the UN report reached the conclusion that UN forces working in South Lebanon will be reduced gradually to 2000 members by the end of July 2002 if a fundamental change will not be taking place in the region.
Mitsora expressed his fears that the number of UN troopers in South Lebanon will be lessened.
As for the economic conditions in South Lebanon, the UN official stressed the need for economic progress and to ensuring work opportunities, investments and more loans.
On the other hand, sources at the Lebanese Parliament said that the report states changes in the missions assigned to UNIFIL, that are not originally in the UN resolution 425, stressing that this change is a violation to the decision of the UN Security Council.
For his part, the Lebanese foreign minister Mahmoud Hammoud expressed his hope that major states will respond to the Lebanese desire to keep the number of US troopers the same like before the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from South Lebanon. The number of UNIFIL troopers in South lebanon is 4500.
The UN Security Council will meet on May 15 to discuss Annan's report and to approve or refuse his recommendations.
Meantime, an Israeli military force violated the Lebanese sovereignty in Burket al-Naqqar area near the Lebanese border town of Shebaa.
Lebanese security sources said that the Israeli force was composed of an armored vehicles, a jib car and more than 15 soldiers.
The Lebanese sources added that the Israeli force carried out a mopping up operations, using intensive artillery for hours and then left the liberated areas with the early hours of the morning.
The sources added that the Israeli warplanes renewed its violations to the Lebanese airspace on Thursday.
Lebanese security sources said the Israeli warplanes flew on Thursday after noon over several areas in South Lebanon, especially over Sidon.
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