Aoun stresses com­mit­ment to 1701

Dur­ing talks with U.N. co­or­di­na­tor, pres­i­dent re­jects Is­rael’s mis­sile site claims as false

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

BEIRUT: Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun this week un­der­scored Le­banon’s com­mit­ment to im­ple­ment­ing U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1701, and again re­jected Is­raeli claims about clan­des­tine Hezbol­lah weapons sites, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the pres­i­dency.

Aoun met with act­ing United Na­tions Spe­cial Co­or­di­na­tor for Le­banon Pernille Dahler Kardel Fri­day at Baabda Palace, telling her that “Is­raeli claims of weapons fac­to­ries and un­der­ground de­pots in sev­eral Le­banese areas are false.”

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu claimed in Septem­ber dur­ing his speech at the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly that Hezbol­lah was keep­ing pre­ci­sion mis­siles in three dif­fer­ent sites near Beirut’s air­port.

Aoun told Kardel that Ne­tanyahu’s claims had been re­futed in early Oc­to­ber dur­ing a field visit for re­porters and for­eign diplo­mats that was or­ga­nized by care­taker For­eign Min­is­ter Ge­bran Bassil.

“Le­banon is com­mit­ted to pre­serv­ing sta­bil­ity along the [south­ern] bor­der and to im­ple­ment­ing Res­o­lu­tion 1701, at a time when Is­rael con­tin­ues to vi­o­late Le­banon’s sovereignty on land, sea and air,” Aoun said, adding that Is­rael was careless about re­spect­ing in­ter­na­tional agree­ments.

Kardel in turn briefed Aoun on an up­com­ing rou­tine trip to New York to present a re­port on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Res­o­lu­tion 1701 be­fore the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

The res­o­lu­tion, which was adopted in 2006 to end the war with Is­rael, states that only troops from UNIFIL and the Le­banese Army are per­mit­ted near the Blue Line, the U.N.-de­mar­cated bor­der be­tween Le­banon and its south­ern neigh­bor. In do­ing so, it im­plic­itly pro­hibits Hezbol­lah from any sort of mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity in the area.

Kardel re­as­sured the pres­i­dent of the U.N.’s con­fi­dence in the cur­rent co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the Le­banese Army and the U.N. peace­keep­ing force in south Le­banon, as well as the “steps be­ing taken to strengthen the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Army to carry out its full role.”

Kardel also voiced the U.N.’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the care be­ing pro­vided by Le­banon to Syr­ian refugees in the coun­try.

Aoun re­it­er­ated past stances that Le­banon sup­ports the re­turn of Syr­ian refugees to their home­land, and noted that the vol­un­tary re­turns that have been over­seen so far by the Gen­eral Se­cu­rity came at the re­quest of the refugees.

“No in­for­ma­tion has been pro­vided by [refugees] of ob­sta­cles faced af­ter re­turn­ing, and [Aoun] called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to help se­cure this re­turn,” the state­ment from Aoun’s of­fice read.

It was the sec­ond time in as many days that Aoun had com­mented on refugees’ safe re­turn.

The pres­i­dent said Thurs­day that there was no in­for­ma­tion in­di­cat­ing Syr­ian refugees faced “per­se­cu­tion” af­ter re­turn­ing to Syria.

He made the com­ments in a tweet that came hours af­ter an­other group of refugees left Le­banon.

Aoun said in Fri­day’s state­ment that “the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s as­sis­tance to Syr­ian refugees af­ter they re­turn to their coun­try en­cour­ages them to go back.”

The pres­i­dent’s re­marks ap­peared to re­fer to last week’s claims by care­taker Min­is­ter of State for Refugee Af­fairs Mouin Mere­hbi that regime forces had killed around 20 Syr­ian refugees who re­turned from Le­banon. “The in­for­ma­tion re­ceived … shows they were killed by a se­nior of­fi­cial in the Syr­ian regime’s army,” Mere­hbi said at the time. –

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