Israel out of Lebanon by Saturday
Lebanon-Israel-UN, Politics, 9/27/2006
The commander of United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon held talks with senior Lebanese and Israeli military officers yesterday with a view to completing by Saturday Israel's withdrawal from all the positions it occupied in its northern Lebanon during last month's fighting with Hizbullah.
"We had a constructive meeting today," UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini said after the talks, during which both Israel's withdrawal and the deployment of the Lebanese army in the area were discussed.
"It is my belief that with the necessary cooperation by both parties we should see the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) leave South Lebanon by the end of this month," he added.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 34 days of fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, mandates strengthening UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said it is generally understood that Israel will completely withdraw once the UN Force reaches 5,000, a step achieved last week, and the Lebanese army is ready to deploy at the full strength, a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC) said here Wednesday.
Pellegrini has held regular talks with the parties, and last Friday he announced the Israeli withdrawal from two more border areas.
A further batch of new UNIFIL personnel is expected in the coming weeks while next week, the first German ship of what is to become the Force's naval contingent is expected to arrive. The German contingent is to include two frigates, as well as some smaller patrol boats.
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