UN to Deploy Peacekeepers Wednesday along Lebanon's Border with Israel
Lebanon agreed to allow the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops on Wednesday along its border with Israel, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a letter to the Security Council, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
"UNIFIL's deployment will take place on July 26th and is to be immediately followed by the deployment of the composite Lebanese unit," Annan said in Monday's letter to the Council.
The Lebanese unit, to be mobilized alongside some 5,000 UN peacekeepers, will be composed of members of Lebanon's internal security services and Lebanese soldiers, he said.
In the four-paragraph letter, Annan confirmed "Israeli authorities have removed all violations of the line of withdrawal."
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Salim Hoss "gave their consent to the full deployment" of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), he said.
Following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon in May, the Lebanese government opposed deploying UNIFIL right up to its southern border until all Israeli encroachments were ended, said AFP.
Earlier Monday, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, announced in Beirut that all Israeli encroachments into southern Lebanon had been corrected.
The UN had been able to verify some dozen or so such encroachments, mostly minor ones such as a patrol trail, which crossed over the so-called "blue line" delineated between the two countries by UN experts, said the agency.
The line does not have the status of an internationally recognized border.
UNIFIL troops will make daily inspections of the line, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard confirmed Monday, said the paper.
"Now that the border violations have been cleared up, it is for the UN to support the Government of Lebanon in establishing a permanent presence in southern Lebanon right up to the border with Israel," Eckhard said.
Eckhard suggested the Lebanese government should supplement its current security presence in the south of the country, which stands at around 1,000 men, with the deployment of a further 1,000.
Annan said in his earlier remarks Monday it was planned that "the UN troops will deploy to the border, and the Lebanese will also deploy their own troops alongside the UN troops," said AFP
"The two commanders (of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army) are working on the details," he added.
On Friday, Annan had recommended to the Security Council a six-month extension of UNIFIL's mandate in southern Lebanon, on condition that the Lebanese army be deployed in the area formerly occupied by Israel.
The UN peacekeepers have been a familiar presence in Lebanon for 22 years, when UNIFIL was created, in March 1978, in response to the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon earlier that month.
They were deployed along the northern edge of the so-called "security zone" established there by the Israeli army, said the agency.
Although authorized by the Security Council in 1978 to deploy right up to the frontier, this week will be the first time they have in fact done so - (Several Sources)
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