The top United Nations envoy to Lebanon today backed the call made by the country’s leaders for dialogue to avoid further tensions following armed clashes earlier this week between Shi’a and Sunni Muslim groups in the capital, Beirut.
Three people were reportedly killed on Tuesday when members of the Hizbollah and Al-Ahbash groups fought each other with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
According to media reports, the groups stated that the incident had stemmed from a personal dispute and that each side had agreed to immediately end their differences.
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said he welcomed the efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and of the country’s leadership in restoring calm in the city.
“The United Nations strongly encourages the call for dialogue, led by President [Michel] Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to avoid any further tension and any similar incidents to those which occurred on Tuesday evening,” Mr. Williams said in a statement following his meeting with the Minister of Social Affairs, Salim Sayegh.
In addition to the clashes, the two men also discussed the political situation and recent developments in Lebanon, including the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah that erupted in 2006.
“We also discussed the work of the Lebanese institutions in promoting stability and security in the country and in addressing the social and economic problems that need to be tackled,” Mr. Williams added.