Mubarak, Lahoud Urge for Full Israeli Withdrawal
Presidents Emile Lahoud of Lebanon and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt urged Israel Thursday to withdraw its air and naval forces from Lebanon in addition to its ground forces.
"The two heads of state stressed the need that the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon be a complete withdrawal covering the ground, air and sea," Egyptian Information Minister Safwat al-Sherif told reporters.
"One must respect Lebanese territorial waters, air space and Lebanese sovereignty over all Lebanese territory," the minister quoted Mubarak and Lahoud as saying.
The two presidents, meeting in Cairo, were discussing Israel's plan to withdraw from its "buffer zone" in south Lebanon in July, after 22 years of occupation.
But the two leaders implied they were concerned Israeli gunboats would still sail off the Lebanese coast and Israeli warplanes would still fly over its territory.
Mubarak and Lahoud also said it was necessary to "respect international borders, whether it concerned Lebanon or Syria," Sherif added.
They also discussed the Palestinian question which they considered to be the "heart and pillar of a just and comprehensive peace" in the Middle East, Sherif said.
Lahoud, who flew here from Tehran, was greeted by Mubarak and a guard of honor at the airport before the two went to a presidential palace in northern Cairo for face-to-face talks.
Their delegations joined them later.
On Friday, Lahoud is due to meet Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid.
This is Lahoud's first Arab tour since he took the helm in November 1998.
Before heading to Egypt, he capped his three-day visit to Tehran with a meeting with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Lahoud, the first Lebanese head of state to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, also met President Mohammad Khatami and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Wednesday.
In a joint statement released by Khatami and Lahoud, the two presidents proclaimed the Israeli government's decision to stage a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon as an "all-out victory for the Arabs."
"Israel should also provide Lebanon with financial compensation," the statement added.
Lahoud and Khatami also stressed the unity of the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, calling on Israeli to pull back to the internationally recognized borderline on the eve of the 1967 war.
Khatami urged Israel to let Palestinians refugees return from host countries. He described Lebanon as a "symbol of resistance in today's world" and said that Tehran would always consider Lebanon's struggle against Israel as a "plus-point" in its ties with Beirut (Agencies)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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