Lebanon vows to stop smuggling from Syria
Lebanon insisted on Thursday it would to stop smuggling from Syria, playing down a dispute between Syria and Israel over whether U.N. forces should help the Lebanese forces stop arms shipments to Hizbullah.
Syria threatened on Wednesday to close the border if the United Nations deployed forces there as part of its mission to enforce the truce between Israel and Hizbullah.
According to Reuters, Culture Minister Tareq Mitri, who led the Lebanese delegation in truce talks at the United Nations this month, said: "The Lebanese government is working hard to secure the border and lift the (Israeli) blockade."
"The Lebanese stance is clear. The sovereignty of any state includes securing its border crossings, preventing any smuggling attempts, and this is what the Lebanese state is planning to do," he told Voice of Lebanon radio.
On his part, Lebanon's FM Fawzi Salloukh played down the urgency of taking a decision, noting that the Lebanese army has many troops on the border. "When we see that this issue deserves discussion, the cabinet will discuss it. If the Lebanese government sees it needs to resort to international forces, it will do that. It's up to the government to decide," he told reporters.
Syria's President Bashar Assad was quoted in a TV interview Wednesday as saying that he would consider the deployment of international troops along the Lebanon-Syria border a hostile move toward his country. "First, this means creating hostile conditions between Syria and Lebanon," Assad told Dubai Television. "Second, it is a hostile move toward Syria and naturally it will create problems."