Hezbollah speaks truth to UN


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

UN should stick to defending Lebanon from Israel: Hezbollah
Sat Sep 16, 6:17 AM ET

A top Hezbollah leader said the Shiite group would have no problems with UN 
peacekeepers as long as they limit their work to defending Lebanon against 
Israel and do not pursue other agendas.

"UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) is here to protect the Lebanese and 
Lebanon's sovereignty, and we want its mandate limited to that," in which case 
there "will be no problems," Nabil Qaouk, the group's chief in the south, told 
AFP Saturday.

"We want the new UNIFIL to do its work in conformity with" UN Security Council 
Resolution 1701, which led to an August 14 truce in the war between Israel and 

"Israel is seeking to have this force play a new role, in other words, to place 
it under its control," Qaouk said. "We hope that Europe and the French will not 
be under American control and will be the closest friends of the Lebanese and 
the Arab world."

More than 7,000 troops from EU countries will make up the backbone of an 
expanded UNIFIL presence in Lebanon, which is expected to total 15,000. Under 
Resolution 1701, they are deploying in south Lebanon, along with an equal number
of Lebanese troops, as Israel progressively withdraws from the country.

Qaouk was speaking two days after the French commander of UNIFIL indicated his 
men would act to take weapons away from Hezbollah if the Lebanese army failed to
do so.

Resolution 1701 calls for establishing "an area free of any armed personnel, 
assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL" 
between the Israeli border and the Litani River.

It stipulates that UNIFIL should "assist the Lebanese armed forces" in achieving

Pellegrini said that, "if the (Lebanese army) fails to act, we must assume our 
responsibilities as a UN force. Someone will have to intervene, with all the 
consequences that this might have for the Lebanese authorities."

Hezbollah has resolutely refused to turn over its arms, saying it will keep them
until Israel ends its occupation of the country.

Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

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