UN Envoy: Israel should Withdraw to 1923 Borders
UN Secretary General's special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said in Beirut Thursday Israel should pull out forces from Lebanon to the 1923 borders, demarcated by France when it occupied some Middle Eastern countries.
Speaking to reporters after talks with Lebanese leaders, Roed-Larsen said the Israeli withdrawal should be implemented in line with international borders with Palestine, which were demarcated during the French occupation of Lebanon.
During his talks in Israel, Larsen said, he received pledges that Israel would "strictly comply with the requirements set out by the Security Council."
He added, however, that the UN had no mandate to rule on border matters in dispute between member states. "Demarcating borders is a matter for the states," he said.
"The role of the United Nations is to confirm Israel's withdrawal from all Lebanese territory to the internationally recognized boundaries," he said. "To do this, we are working with the parties to identify that line for the purpose of determining whether a full withdrawal has occcurred."
He said the role of UNIFIL, the peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, start after the withdrawal in compliance with UN Security Council resolution 426.
Roed-Larsen was speaking after two rounds of talks with President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Salim Hoss and security commander Major-General Jamil As-Sayyed.
He said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would be responsible of making sure that the withdrawal was complete, as well as securing that the Lebanese government maintained order in southern Lebanon.
Roed-Larsen said he discussed with the Lebanese officials maps and documents of the borders which were demarcated in 1923. "The talks were hot sometimes but were in friendly and positive atmospheres," he said.
Roed-Larsen, due to fly to Damascus Saturday, will meet the Lebanese leaders again on Friday to be followed by a news conference.
He hoped the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon would pave the way for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 338 and 242 in order to bring about lasting and just peace in the Middle East on the Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian tracks.
Meanwhile, an official Lebanese statement said Beirut was committed with the implementation of Security Council resolutions 425 and 426, which call for the Israeli army's immediate and unconditional withdrawal from southern Lebanon and its western Bekaa.
It said withdrawal should include all Lebanese lands beyond the 1923 borders.
The statement said any Israeli presence in the Lebanese lands would derail unifil's mandate. it called for releasing around 166 prisoners from al-kheyam detention camps – (Several Sources)
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