Annan Seeks Bashar's Help to Maintain Calm in South Lebanon

Published June 23rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sought Bashar Assad's help on Thursday in maintaining peace on the Israeli-Lebanese border, conferring international recognition on the late President Hafez Assad's son before he ascends to the leadership post, reported the Daily Star newspaper.  

Damascus was the final leg of Annan's Middle East tour.  

Annan also met with foreign minister Farouq Shara, seeking support for his plans to maintain peace in south Lebanon, including the deployment of an enlarged UNIFIL contingent to the border, said the paper.  

"Bashar Assad assured the UN secretary-general that Syria will continue its cooperation with the United Nations until there is a just and comprehensive peace" in the Middle East, the paper said, quoting an official as saying.  

Assad "also renewed Syria's support for Lebanese demands that Israel withdraw completely from all Lebanese territory," added the official.  

Sharaa and UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen also attended the meeting.  

A UN official told The Associated Press that "Syria's good offices would "allow Lebanon to gradually assume sovereignty and effective control over the South, over all its territory."  

"That's what the United Nations mission was sent there to do 22 years ago," but "they can't do it alone; we're going to need the support of the governments of the region," added the UN official.  

Meanwhile, Annan's trip to Syria occurred as the UN border verification team officially wrapped up the process of confirming Israel's withdrawal, said the AP.  

Both the Lebanese and Israeli delegations, which accompanied the UN teams on either side of the border, are to submit reports to their respective governments.  

Despite the progress in the team's work on the ground, Israel's violations of Lebanese sovereignty continued with warplanes crossing the skies and breaking the sound barrier over south Lebanon, said the AP.  

"The military jets flew over the Mediterranean and not over Lebanese territorial waters and there was no violation of Lebanese territory," the Israeli Army said in a statement.  

Police at Tyre told the agency that the aircraft broke the sound barrier over the town of Naqoura and flew over the South for an hour, in particular over Nabatieh and Iqlim al-Touffah.  

It was the second time that Israeli warplanes have violated Lebanese airspace since the May 24th withdrawal of the occupation forces. Israel had pledged that the end of the 22-year occupation also signaled an end to military maneuvers in Lebanese territorial waters and airspace, according to the agency - (Several Sources)  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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