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Indian general named commander of UN interim force in Lebanon

Indian general named commander of UN interim force in Lebanon

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a senior military officer from India as the new Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The appointment of Gen. Lalit Mohan Tewari was made official following an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, a UN spokesman said.

The previous commander, Gen. Seth Kofi Obeng of Ghana, relinquished his post on 15 May and since then his deputy, Gen. Ganesan Athamanathan, has been Acting Force Commander.

Currently the Commander of the Higher Command Wing at the College of Combat of the Indian Armed Forces, Gen. Tewari served in the early '90s as the Chief of the Observer Group in Costa Rica within the UN Observer Group in Central America.

Meanwhile, an Israeli delegation that visited UN Headquarters in New York this morning raised procedural questions about viewing videotapes and related items that could shed light on the condition of the three Israeli soldiers abducted on the Israeli-Lebanese border last October.

The UN had defined the modalities of the viewing in a letter to the Israeli Ambassador yesterday, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said, but the Israeli delegation had questions today about those procedures, "and we said we would meet with them later today to see if we could sort it out."

Mr. Eckhard said the UN was trying to help Israel from a humanitarian standpoint and needed to be careful to refrain from revealing anything that could be of an intelligence nature. "We are trying to establish modalities that preserve the humanitarian nature of this exercise," he added. "That's the fundamental issue."

The UN did offer to take blood samples found on some of the items through a third party such as the World Health Organization, Mr. Eckhard said. The blood could be tested and then matched against blood information from the Israeli's files on the three soldiers.