UN Security Council Extends UNIFIL’s Mandate in Lebanon
By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the UN Security Council approved Secretary General Kofi Annan's request to extend by six months the mandate of UN peacekeepers along Lebanon's border with Israel.
The council also approved, over Beirut's objections, Annan's proposal to halve the UN Interim Force in Lebanon later this year, from 5,800 troops to 3,600, and instructed the secretary general to investigate whether the peacekeeping mission should become an observer mission instead, according to the UN news website.
The UN peacekeepers are deployed along the Blue Line, the de facto border with Israel since the Jewish state withdrew its forces in May 2000.
The council “called on the parties to respect fully the withdrawal line, to exercise utmost restraint and to cooperate fully with the UN.”
Condemning all acts of violence, the council expressed great concern about the serious breaches and the air, sea and land violations of the withdrawal line, and urged the parties to put an end to them and to respect the safety of UNIFIL personnel, said the UN, quoting a statement.
The parties were also called on to ensure that UNIFIL was accorded full freedom of movement throughout its area of operation.
Looking to the broader quest for an end to the violence in the region, the text stressed the need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all of the council's relevant resolutions.
By other provisions, the council called on the Lebanese government to ensure the return of its effective authority throughout the south, including through the deployment of the country's armed forces there.
The government was also encouraged to ensure a calm environment in the area, said the statement.
Concerning the problem of landmines, the council welcomed UNIFIL's efforts to cope with the problem and encouraged the UN to provide Lebanon with further assistance in mine removal action – Albawaba.com
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