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Lebanon: Security Council members voice concern over breaches of Blue Line

Lebanon: Security Council members voice concern over breaches of Blue Line

Members of the Security Council today expressed concern over recent breaches of the withdrawal line in Lebanon and urged all sides to control their actions there, according to the President of the 15-member body.

"Members are disturbed by the reports of land, sea and air violations and serious breaches of the withdrawal line, which is known in the parlance as the Blue Line," said Ambassador James Cunningham of the United States, which holds the Council's rotating presidency. In a press statement, he added that Council members "reiterated their call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint, to respect the Blue Line and to fulfil the commitments they have given to the Security Council."

According to the Council President, the members were "also deeply concerned by assertions that the Blue Line is not valid in the Sheba farms area. This area is governed by UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which are applicable to the occupied Syrian Golan." Adopted in 1967 and 1973, respectively, those resolutions call in part for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces.

Ambassador Cunningham's statement to the press followed closed-door consultations among Council members on Secretary-General Kofi Annan's latest report on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which contains proposals for reconfiguring UNIFIL in order to bring it in line with prevailing conditions and allow for greater mobility.

Commenting on those recommendations, Ambassador Cunningham said Council members "understood the concerns of the Government of Lebanon to avoid sudden changes to UNIFIL that might upset regional security."

"There was general support for the Secretary-General's intention, taking the Government of Lebanon's concerns into account, to carry out a gradual, phased and prudent reconfiguration of UNIFIL in light of circumstances on the ground and the need for UNIFIL to carry out its mandate and to monitor the Blue Line more effectively," he said. "The Council will keep this process under review and take further steps as necessary until peace is restored."

Meanwhile in Abu Dhabi today, the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, expressed gratitude to the Government of the United Arab Emirates for its pledge of $50 million to demining activities in Lebanon that are being carried out under UN auspices.