Lebanese President Criticizes Rush to Certify Israeli Withdrawal
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud criticized Thursday those whom he said were in a rush to wrap up verification of the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, reported the Daily Star.
"We waited 22 years for the liberation of our land. How can they conceive of not being able to wait a few days to ensure the withdrawal," he said as he chaired an extraordinary cabinet session, said the daily.
Information minister Anwar Khalil said Lahoud was responding to those who held Lebanon responsible for delays the United Nation's verification work, which is required by the Security Council.
"For us, verifying the withdrawal is done on the basis of our rights and the facts, while others see this verification on the basis of their being in a hurry and pressed to go quickly," Lahoud said.
UN secretary general Kofi Annan has several times called for the work to be wrapped up quickly, according to the daily.
Lahoud also charged that Israel was placing obstacles in the path of the verification teams by continuing to post troops at some points on Lebanese territory and because of minefields in some areas along the border.
Israeli troops fired in the direction of a UN team on the Lebanese side of the border Thursday, causing verification work to be suspended for the day, the daily added.
Israel said the shooting was a mistake, said AFP.
But a UN source was quoted by the agency as saying that "the incident was occurred because the Israelis should no longer be along the UN line of retreat." The incident was not an error, the source said, but a question of not respecting the line.
An AFP correspondent reported that the Israelis fired six shots when UNIFIL troops, accompanied by Lebanese army officers, tried to lift barbed wire to get into the village of Abassiyeh.
A UNIFIL officer told AFP the Israelis had "shot two or three rounds of their assault rifles toward the feet of the UNIFIL team, some within one meter (yard) of their legs." - (Several Sources)
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