Annan Arrives in Lebanon to Continue Peacemaking Efforts
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in Beirut Thursday on a new leg of his Middle East peacemaking mission, switching the focus from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Lebanon's southern border.
Annan was expected to go into immediate talks with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, who is under UN and western pressure to ensure that violent border incidents are stopped.
The fate of three Israeli soldiers captured by the Lebanese Hizbollah movement in a raid into disputed Israeli-held territory on the Lebanese-Syrian border Saturday would also be on the agenda, diplomats said.
Lahoud would be raising the question of recent violations of Lebanese air space and the question of Lebanese detainees in Israel, whose release Hizbollah is demanding in exchange for freeing the three soldiers.
Annan would also meet Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, whose "country fiercely opposes the Middle East peace process, backs Hizbollah and wants to see Israel eradicated," a UN spokesman said.
Kharazi had urged Annan Sunday to warn Israel against threats to Lebanon following the capture of three Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah movement in an Israeli-held disputed region on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Hizbollah, which is also supported by Syria, accepted Wednesday the principle of mediation by Annan for the release of the soldiers provided he brought worthwhile proposals from Israel.
Kharazi denied that Iran had been approached by France or Spain about the three soldiers.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique said Sunday that Washington had asked Spain and France to intervene with Iran on behalf of the three - (AFP)
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