Ban Ki-moon urges Lebanese parties to turn away from protests and back to talks

Ban Ki-moon urges Lebanese parties to turn away from protests and back to talks

Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all parties in Lebanon resume a dialogue to address their political differences after street confrontations that have reportedly caused loss of life and injuries.

“He is greatly concerned that the political dispute in Lebanon,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas said in a statement that noted that the new confrontation came just ahead of a donors’ conference in Paris, which will seek to help the country recover from the ravages of last summer’s between Israel and Hizbollah.

Mr. Ban, who will attend the Paris conference, reiterated the UN’s support for the stability, sovereignty, security and independence of Lebanon.

The office of Mr. Ban’s Personal Representative for Lebanon Geir Pedersen reported that the Beirut airport had been cut off during the demonstrations and was temporarily effectively closed. Many roads within and around Beirut and in other parts of Lebanon have been cut off by blockades, some them built with burning tires and old cars, it added.

The office is monitoring reports of clashes between different factions, mostly north of Beirut.

In a related development Ms. Montas said there had been seven Israeli overflights of Lebanon by Israeli warplanes today in breach of the agreement which ended the hostilities in August.

“In accordance with its standard procedures, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) protests each overflight to the Israeli authorities as a violation of the Blue Line” separating the two countries, she added.

Before going to the Paris conference on Lebanon, Mr. Ban will travel to Brussels, where he will hold meetings with European Union, European Parliament and European Commission officials as well as senior representatives of NATO and the Belgian Government, as well as the country’s King.

From Paris he will go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), meeting with President Joseph Kabila and other senior government officials as well as peacekeepers and staff of the UN’s largest mission, and addressing the National Assembly.

A trip to Kisangani is scheduled, as is a brief visit across the river to Brazzaville to meet with President Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, Ms. Montas announced today.

Mr. Ban will then go to Addis Ababa for the African Union Summit before ending his Africa trip with a stop in Nairobi, where he will meet with the Kenyan President and the UN staff.

From Kenya, the Secretary-General will travel to the Netherlands, where he will visit the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. He will also meet with Queen Beatrix as well as the Dutch Prime Minister and senior officials.

After that, Mr. Ban will go to Washington, D.C. for a meeting of the Middle East Quartet comprised of the UN, United States, Russian Federation and European Union.