U.S. Reportedly Seeking to Expand UNIFIL Missions

The United States is seeking to grant the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) greater powers that involve “the possibility of intervention, deterrence and accountability,” a media report said.

“The White House's National Security Adviser John Bolton is conducting consultations with a number of U.S. diplomats and security officials in order to turn the occasion of extending UNIFIL's mandate in late August into a 'non-routine occasion,' as has been the case since the arrival of these forces in Lebanon in 1978 after the first Israeli invasion of the South,” al-Akhbar daily quoted “highly informed diplomatic sources” as saying in remarks published Wednesday.

“In 2006, John Bolton was present as the then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N., alongside others such as Elliott Abrams, David Welch and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Twelve years on from the July Aggression, Bolton is appearing again, this time from the heart of the White House,” the sources added.

Noting that Bolton “has tried to explore the stance of other world powers, most notably France," the sources said “the French, as usual, have dealt with the issue of extending UNIFIL's mandate as not being related to Israel's security – despite their certain keenness on it – but rather as a file related to France's national security, in light of the presence of around 1,200 French officers and troops in south Lebanon.”

“They responded to the American messages by rejecting any attempt to revise UNIFIL's missions, out of their keenness on the security of their troops in the South,” the sources added.

The sources said Paris was also quick to put the Lebanese government in the picture of the “ongoing deliberations between Washington and New York that involve direct coordination with Tel Aviv.”

"The French spoke of what they called 'alarming signals' coming from the U.S. side, which include an attempt to introduce significant changes to the resolution that would extend UNIFIL's mandate on August 31 at the U.N. Security Council,” al-Akhbar quoted the sources as saying.

The Americans “want UNIFIL's missions to involve the eastern border between Lebanon and Syria and want to give the force the ability to carry out intervention, deterrence and accountability missions,” the sources went on to say.

The U.S. is threatening to “slash the U.S. contribution to the funding of all U.N. peace missions around the world, including that of UNIFIL,” the sources said.

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