Syria's ruling party newspaper, Al-Baath, on Sunday praised Lebanese President Emile Lahoud for his firmness in having held out against pressure to agree to deployment of UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon before he was satisfied that Israel had completely withdrawn.
Troops of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deployed along the border with Israel Saturday a day after the Lebanese government finally gave them the go-ahead to do so.
Lebanon had balked at their moving any earlier, demanding over several weeks following the May 24th Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon that existing and newly discovered encroachments be cleared up.
The newspaper characterized the UNIFIL deployment as a "new triumph" with which "Lebanon will have triumphed over the occupier, even though some questions such as the blue line and farms of Shebaa remain unresolved," the newspaper said.
Although Lebanon has now accepted that Israel has withdrawn along the blue line, it still has two outstanding border disputes with Israel.
One is the Shebaa Farms, on the foothills of Mount Hermon in eastern Lebanon, and the other is part of the village of Ghajar, in the same area.
Israel says it occupied these areas from Syria in the war of June 1967, in which Lebanon was not involved, and that their future will be decided in talks with Damascus.
The triumph of Lebanon could be put down to Lahoud, Al-Baath said, in that he "affirmed several times that Lebanon would not give up one inch of its territory and would not be turned in to an Israeli border guard."
The paper went on to say that the UNIFIL deployment "will permit the rebuilding of Lebanese infrastructure which Israel had seriously damaged" during its occupation.
It called on "brother Arab countries" to help southern Lebanon to achieve a new life "after a long nightmare." - DAMASCUS (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )