Israel to lift blockade of Lebanon
Israel will lift its sea and air blockade of Lebanon on Thursday evening, Tel Avvi announced Wednesday. A statement issued on Wednesday said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had been informed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that "the international forces are ready to take over control posts over the seaports and airports of Lebanon."
"Thus it was was agreed that tomorrow at 6 p.m. (1500 GMT), Israel will leave the control positions over the ports in conjunction with the entry of the internatioanl forces," the statement said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday repeated his hope that Israel will lift its blockade of Lebanon within days. Annan, stopping in Turkey for talks following a tour of the Middle East and Africa, urged Israel to lift its blockade on Lebanon.
"I'm still hopeful that the air, land and sea blockade will be lifted within the next 36 to 48 hours," Annan said.
Earlier, two Lebanese army explosives experts died and another seriously injured Wednesday trying to defuse an unexploded artillery shell leftover from the war in southern Lebanon, security officials said.
The ordnance went off as the soldiers tried to dismantle it near the village of Aita al-Jabal near the border with Israel, security officials said. According to the AP, one of the soldiers was killed immediately and another was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. The third casualty was reported in critical condition in the same hospital, the security officials said.
Annan also called on Hizbullah to disarm and to devote itself to political activities, and said Lebanon must take the initiative in disarming the militants based in the south. "There has to be a national consensus among the Lebanese to disarm" Hizbullah, Annan said. "The remaining ones should disarm and devote all their energy to political activities to transform themselves into parties."