Lebanon strongly supports renewal mandate of UNIFIL peacekeepers

Lebanon strongly supports renewal mandate of UNIFIL peacekeepers

Lebanon on Monday voiced its strong support for the unanimous decision by the UN Security Council to renew for another year the mandate for UN peacekeepers in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, Xinhua reported.

The statement came as Nawaf Salam, the Lebanese permanent representative to the United Nations, was speaking at the UN Security Council after the 15-nation Council voted unanimously to approve the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until Aug. 31, 2011.

The Security Council adopted the resolution at the request of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said that the presence of the UNIFIL remains critical following the Aug. 3 incident, during which Lebanese and Israeli forces exchanged fire over the border known as the Blue Line. The exchange of fire killed two Lebanese soldiers, one Israeli commander and one Lebanese journalist.

In his report to the Security Council about the Aug. 3 incident, Ban said that Lebanese Israeli forces fired at each other for three hours with heavy machine guns and rockets.

Referring to the Aug. 3 incident, Salam said this "underlines how important it is to strengthen coordination with UNIFIL in order to prevent similar events from occurring in the future."

"Israel continues to blatantly and repeatedly violate Lebanese sovereignty on land and at sea," he said, adding that he looked forward to enhancing Lebanon's coordination and cooperation with UNIFIL during its renewed mandate.

"The Security Council strong calls upon all parties concerned to respect the cessation of hostilities, to prevent any violation of the Blue Line and to respect it in its entirety and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL," said the new resolution.  

"The Security Council urges all parties to cooperate fully with the Security Council and the secretary-general to make tangible progress towards a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution" as envisioned in relevant Security Council resolution, the resolution said.

"The Security Council emphasizes the importance of full compliance with the prohibition on sales and supply of arms and related material established by resolution 1701," the resolution said.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought an end to the war between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, prohibits storing weapons in the security zone between the Litani River and the Blue Line, which is the Lebanese- Israeli border. The area is under the observation of UNIFIL.

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