The United Nations special envoy in the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen of Sweden, has said that he is close to reaching an agreement with Lebanon on the issues surrounding Israel's withdrawal, reported BBC.online Friday.
During a second day of talks with the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss, Larsen was quoted as saying only three points remained to be resolved and that the discussions would continue late into Friday.
The discussions have centered on United Nations' efforts to verify the withdrawal, and map out the exact line of the international border, according to the BBC.
But the Lebanese government responded quickly by playing down Larsen's remarks.
An official Lebanese statement said: "Lebanon expressed reservations on the UN view related to defining three positions between Rmaish and Metulla [in the central sector], in addition to verifying the Israeli withdrawal from the eastern sector of the border."
Major point at issue is the disputed Shabaa Farms area. The plateau is situated on Lebanon's borders with Syria but has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Lebanon claims the land, saying it is the last piece of its territory still in Israeli hands.
Israel says it took the farmland from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and its fate should be the subject of bilateral negotiations with Damascus.
The Jewish state has warned that it will hold Damascus and Beirut responsible for any attacks by fighters who have taken control of the area vacated by Israel forces.
Larsen has been to the border zone to oversee field-workers and cartographers trying to ensure that Israel's pull out from south Lebanon last week was completed in line with Security Council Resolution 425, said the BBC report.
UN Resolution 425, adopted after a 1978 Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon, calls for an unconditional Israeli withdrawal to the international border and a deployment of UN peacekeepers.
But a UN report has said Shabaa Farms was not included in the resolution.
In a newspaper interview, the Lebanese prime minister said his government would respect the UN certification of Israel's withdrawal – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )