UN Extends its Peacekeeping Mission in Southern Lebanon Six Months
The UN Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to extend the mandate by six months of 5,000 UN troops set to be deployed soon in Southern Lebanon.
The resolution also called on the Lebanese government to deploy its armed forces in the region "as soon as possible."
The Council "encourages" Lebanon to assume control of the region.
The Security Council reaffirmed that the deployment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) "should be conducted in coordination with the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese armed forces."
Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon after a 22-year occupation on May 24. The deployment of UN troops in the zone has been delayed several times due to allegations of Israeli violations of the borderline during the retreat.
Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss said Thursday in Beirut that three of the Israeli violations had been rectified and a fourth was in the process of being resolved.
UN troops could begin deployment Friday or Thursday evening, according to diplomatic sources.
In preparation for deployment, UNIFIL is currently being reinforced and should number 6,500 soldiers soon.
The resolution "calls on the parties to respect that line, to exercise the utmost restraint, and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with UNIFIL".
The resolution extends until January 2001 the UNIFIL mandate that sent troops to Lebanon after the Israeli invasion in March 1978.
The Council said that it "looks forward to the early fulfillment of the mandate of UNIFIL."
If the mission of UNIFIL to reestablish security in the region and help Lebanon to gain control is accomplished soon, the force will be replaced with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), created in 1948.
The Security Council will meet in the end of October, after the Lebanese elections this fall, to reassess the mission - UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
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