US wants UN mis­sion to re­port on Hezbol­lah

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

United Na­tions - The United States wants UN peace­keep­ers in southern Le­banon to take on an ex­panded mis­sion and in­ves­ti­gate al­leged vi­o­la­tions by Hezbol­lah mili­tias in the volatile area, Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley said on Mon­day.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is set to vote on re­new­ing the UN in­terim force in Le­banon (UNIFIL) later this month, and Ha­ley said she will seek ‘sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments’ to its man­date.

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res in­formed the coun­cil in a let­ter sent on Fri­day that he in­tended to look at ways in which UNIFIL could beef up its ef­forts ‘re­gard­ing the il­le­gal pres­ence of armed per­son­nel, weapons or in­fra­struc­ture in­side its area of op­er­a­tions’.

‘We share the sec­re­tary-gen­eral’s strong de­sire to en­hance UNIFIL’s ef­forts to pre­vent the spread of il­le­gal arms in southern Le­banon’, said Ha­ley in a state­ment. ‘Th­ese arms - which are al­most en­tirely in the hands of Hezbol­lah ter­ror­ists - threaten the se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity of the re­gion’.

‘UNIFIL must in­crease its ca­pac­ity and com­mit­ment to in­ves­ti­gat­ing and re­port­ing th­ese vi­o­la­tions’, she added.

Guter­res is ex­pected to discuss UNIFIL’s mis­sion when he pays his first visit as UN chief to Is­rael and the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries later this month.

Ha­ley has been a strong sup­porter of Is­rael, which fought a month-long war against Hezbol­lah in 2006. The fight­ing killed more than 1,200 Le­banese, mostly civil­ians, and more than 160 Is­raelis, mostly sol­diers.

There has been spec­u­la­tion about the pos­si­bil­ity of a new war break­ing out be­tween Is­rael and Hezbol­lah, a pow­er­ful Le­banese para­mil­i­tary or­gan­isa- tion, more than a decade af­ter their last di­rect con­fronta­tion.

There have been pe­ri­odic skir­mishes along the UN-mon­i­tored de­mar­ca­tion line be­tween Is­rael and Le­banon, long­time ad­ver­saries which are tech­ni­cally still at war with each other.

Set up in 1978, UNIFIL was beefed up af­ter the 2006 war and now has 10,500 troops on the ground mon­i­tor­ing the cease­fire and help­ing the Le­banese gov­ern­ment se­cure its bor­ders. A vote on UNIFIL’s man­date at the coun­cil is ten­ta­tively sched­uled for Au­gust 30.

(AFP)

This file photo shows Nikki Ha­ley, the US Am­bas­sador to the UN, dur­ing a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meeting at the UN head­quar­ters, in New York on July 5

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