U.N. Coordinator Lauds Hariri's Southern Tour, Says 'Reflects Continued Partnership'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag on Friday welcomed a visit to the South by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, saying it “reflects the continued partnership” between Lebanon and the U.N.
The Special Coordinator "welcomes today’s visit of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Defense Yaacoub Sarraf and Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun to South Lebanon, including the Blue Line,” Kaag's office said in a statement.
“The visit reflects the continued partnership between the Government of Lebanon and the United Nations in support of the country's stability and security. The Special Coordinator lauds the Government’s continued commitment to strengthen the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces,” the statement added.
Kaag also welcomed Hariri's reaffirmation of the government's commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, noting that the U.N. “stands ready to continue to provide its good offices to help effect progress on outstanding obligations under the resolution and towards a permanent ceasefire.”
Hariri's visit to the South came a day after Hizbullah took a group of over 100 local and international journalists on a rare tour of the border with Israel. Members of Hizbullah's armed wing stood guard on part of the tour, displaying weapons despite a prohibition stipulated by UNSCR 1701 on any armed paramilitary presence so close to the demarcation line.
Hariri said Friday that "what happened yesterday is something that we, as a government, are not concerned with and do not accept."
There has been rising speculation about a new conflict between Hizbullah and Israel, who fought a 34-day war in 2006 that ended after the approval of Resolution 1701.
That conflict killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000, ending a 22-year occupation, but the two countries remain technically at war and there have been occasional skirmishes on the border.
During his visit to the South, Hariri urged U.N. chief Antonio Guterres to "support efforts to secure, as soon as possible, a state of permanent ceasefire."