United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan flew into Beirut Monday, straight into a row over whether the Israelis had completely withdrawn from southern Lebanon.
As he arrived UN peacekeepers and Lebanese military officers were checking alleged Israeli violations of the border, three days after Annan said the withdrawal was complete.
President Emile Lahoud's office said the peacekeepers should not deploy throughout the former Israeli-occupied zone until all the Israeli encroachments alleged by Beirut are removed.
The UN Security Council Sunday endorsed Annan's conclusion that UN troops in Lebanon had confirmed the withdrawal of all Israeli forces after a 22-year occupation, "in full compliance with Security Council Resolution 425."
But it added that "it notes with serious concern reports of violations that have occurred since June 16th, 2000."
Before Annan arrived Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss said the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) "must immediately take in hand the task of eliminating the Israeli encroachments on the international border."
Speaking after an initial brief meeting with Hoss and President Emile Lahoud, Annan said, "Lebanon has indicated a list of violations that UNIFIL is checking now."
"We have seen troops or trucks here and there," Annan said, adding, "If we conclude there are violations, obviously we will ask Israel to withdraw."
Lebanese sources said earlier that UN and Lebanese officers had left by helicopter from the UNIFIL base at Naqoura on the Mediterranean to check the border eastwards as far as the central town of Yarin.
But Annan also said there were misunderstandings by both Lebanon and Israel on the line of the Israeli withdrawal from territory occupied since 1978, as marked by the UN. Beirut calls it fictitious, saying the Israelis should go back to the international border of 1923 - BEIRUT (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)