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Annan visits Beirut to shore up Lebanon truce - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Brussels, August 25, 2006 (REUTERS)

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Brussels, August 25, 2006 (REUTERS)

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, trying to turn a shaky truce between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas into a lasting ceasefire, arrived in Beirut on Monday to discuss an expanded peacekeeping mission in south Lebanon.

He will face Lebanese demands for the removal of an Israeli air and sea blockade of Lebanon. He may also discuss policing the Lebanese-Syrian border to stop arms smuggling, as well as a possible prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah.

Annan, who will meet Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, is seeking full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, a U.N. spokesman said.

The resolution, which halted a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah on August 14, made several demands on Israel, Lebanon and the international community which have yet to be met.

It called for the full reopening of Lebanon’s ports and airport, blockaded by Israel since the start of the war, and for the securing of Lebanese borders to prevent arms smuggling.

The resolution also asked the international community for up to 13,000 troops to expand the existing UNIFIL force in Lebanon.

Annan discussed the European Union’s military contribution with EU leaders in Brussels on Friday. He said France, which has promised 2,000 troops, would continue to lead it until February when Italy, which has pledged 3,000, would take over.

“We should deploy, I hope, within the next few days, not the next few weeks,” Annan said after the talks.

An aide to Siniora said the prime minister would ask the U.N. chief to press Israel to end its blockade on Lebanon.

Lebanon has formed a committee to tighten security measures at the airport, ports and land crossings, a senior security official said. Among the tasks of the committee, headed by police chief Brigadier-General Ashraf Rifi, will be to upgrade security equipment at Beirut’s international airport.

A Lebanese soldier stands next to a Lebanese flag on top of an armoured personel carrier at a checkpoint in the southern border town of  Kafarkila, Lebanon, Aug. 28, 2006.(AP)

A Lebanese soldier stands next to a Lebanese flag on top of an armoured personel carrier at a checkpoint in the southern border town of Kafarkila, Lebanon, Aug. 28, 2006.(AP)

Civilians are seen in downtown Beirut August 27, 2006, nearly two weeks after an Aug. 14 truce which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah (REUTERS)

Civilians are seen in downtown Beirut August 27, 2006, nearly two weeks after an Aug. 14 truce which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah (REUTERS)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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