Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated his support for the work of the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try suspects in the 2005 murders of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others, as he met with the slain leader’s son and current Premier, Saad Hariri.
During the meeting on Sunday evening in New York, Mr. Ban stressed the independence of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and hoped its work would help end impunity in the country.
The Tribunal is an independent body that was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing in February 2005 that killed Mr. Hariri and the others was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack.
In the meeting, which was described as “cordial and constructive” by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also discussed regional and other efforts to promote stability.
A number of aspects of Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah, were discussed, including the need to end Israeli air violations.
The Secretary-General stressed the importance of both parties working for the full implementation of the resolution, and the good work being done by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He also took note of the Lebanese concerns on the maritime boundary issues.
Other issues discussed included the Middle East peace process, and the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative in the search for a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Meanwhile, today in Beirut, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon met with a number of officials, with whom he discussed the Tribunal, the issue of the delimitation of the country’s borders and the potential oil and gas resources in Lebanese maritime areas.
“Lebanon has every right to benefit from these resources and they need to be explored and exploited in the future,” Michael Williams said following his meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri.
Mr. Williams, who also met with Foreign Minister Ali Shami and the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Mohammad Fneish, added that while it is not within UNIFIL’s mandate to delineate Lebanon’s maritime borders, “the UN stands ready, if requested, to assist the country in taking the necessary steps in that direction.”