US representative to the UN Security Council, Nancy Soderberg, hailed the progress Thursday at restoring calm in southern Lebanon following the Israeli pullout and urged a prompt deployment of UN and Lebanese army troops in the area.
"We believe that the situation there has gone better than expected and calm has prevailed," Soderberg said after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss.
"The deployment in the south of the government forces will greatly enhance the stability there and create a sense of calm and stability throughout the region," she said.
Lebanese experts and observers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are still verifying whether Israel has stopped all encroachments into Lebanese territory.
Although the UN Security Council certified Israel's May 24 pullback on June 23rd, the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in the area has been delayed because Lebanon accused Israel of border violations.
"I was very impressed with the work that UNIFIL has done and particularly the cooperation of the Lebanese government in that effort," said Soderberg.
"We're very encouraged with the progress UNIFIL has been making in addressing the outstanding violations of the blue line," Soderberg said, referring to the withdrawal line drawn by the United Nations after the Israeli pullout.
She expected "within the next few days a clean bill of health on the blue line that would trigger an immediate deployment of both UNIFIL and government forces."
Soderberg said she discussed with Hoss "the progress of the monitoring of the blue line, the process of ongoing monitoring there, the need to have UNIFIL and government forces deployed in the south."
She also said the United States was looking forward "with great enthusiasm" to an international donors' conference to be held in Beirut on July 27th for development and reconstruction projects in southern Lebanon.
Soderberg was expected to meet Lebanese President Emile Lahoud on Friday before traveling to Damascus for similar talks. She will leave for New York on Monday - BEIRUT (AFP)
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