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Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

20 April 2000



The Security Council this morning welcomed the letters from Secretary-General Kofi Annan that include notification of the decision of the Government of Israel to withdraw its forces in Lebanon in full accordance with Security resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978).

In a statement read by its President, Robert Fowler (Canada), the Council endorsed the decision of the Secretary-General to initiate preparations to enable the United Nations to carry out its responsibilities under those resolutions.

The Council indicated that it shared the Secretary-General’s view that cooperation by all parties concerned would be required to avoid a deterioration of the situation. It welcomed the Secretary-General's decision to send his Special Envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, to the region as soon as practicable and encouraged all parties to cooperate fully in the complete implementation of its resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978).

The Council further stated that it looked forward to the Secretary-General reporting back as soon as possible on relevant developments, including the outcome of the consultations with the parties and all interested Member States and those contributing troops to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). It also looked forward to his conclusions and recommendations regarding the plans and requirements for implementation of its resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) and all other relevant resolutions.

The meeting, which began at 10:35 a.m., was adjourned at 10:40 a.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/2000/13, reads as follows:


When it met to consider the situation in the Middle East this morning, the Council had before it three letters: two from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council dated 6 and 17 April (documents S/2000/294 and S/2000/322, respectively); and the third a letter from the President of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, to the Secretary-General (document S/2000/295).

In his 6 April letter (S/2000/294), the Secretary-General provides a “gist” of his meeting in Geneva on 4 April with David Levy, Foreign Minister of Israel. The letter states that the Israeli Minister reaffirmed his Government’s decision to withdraw Israeli troops from southern Lebanon in accordance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978), fully and without conditions. The withdrawal would be implemented in a continuous operation, “in one go”, by the end of July, the letter quotes the Foreign Minister as saying.

The Foreign Minister assured the Secretary-General of his Government’s decision to cooperate fully with the United Nations throughout the process, within the framework of the relevant Security Council resolutions. It was agreed that cooperation by all parties concerned would be needed to avoid any deterioration of the situation during the withdrawal.

The letter states that on 5 April, the Secretary-General discussed, on the telephone, with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the decisions taken by his Government as conveyed to him by his Foreign Minister. He told the Prime Minister that the United Nations had an obligation to fulfil the mandates established by the Security Council in its resolution 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), while noting that many questions would have to be addressed to make that possible. In the meantime, the Secretariat had begun preliminary contingency planning.

According to the letter, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, met with President Lahoud of Lebanon on 5 April in Beirut to brief him on the development. The following day Mr. Roed-Larsen also met the Lebanese Prime Minister and other senior officials.

The President of Lebanon raised a number of questions relating to the Israeli proposal, in a discussion with the Secretary-General by telephone on 6 April, according to the letter. Those questions, which had been made public by the Lebanese authorities, were receiving the Secretary-General’s close attention. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy was to meet with the Foreign Minister of Syria, as well as with other concerned parties in the region, to brief them on the situation and to seek their views.

For his part, the Secretary-General says he was continuing his consultations with interested Member States in the region and beyond.

In his 17 April letter (S/2000/322), the Secretary-General informs the President of the Security Council that the Permanent Representative of Israel, Yehuda Lancry, had conveyed to him formal notification by Foreign Minister David Levy of his Government's decision to withdraw its forces in Lebanon by July this year. The communication and the notification are attached to the Secretary-General’s letter.

The Secretary-General states that he had initiated preparations to enable the United Nations to carry out its responsibilities under resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978). He states that he intended to consult with the parties and interested Member States, including those contributing troops UNIFIL. To that end, he had requested his Special Envoy to go to the region as soon as possible.

He would keep the Council informed of relevant developments, including the outcome of those consultations and his own conclusions regarding the plans and requirements for the implementation of resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), the letter states.

The letter from the President of Lebanon (document S/2000/295) outlines his Government's views on the Israeli decision to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. The Lebanese President's letter poses a number of questions to which it seeks answers from the United Nations before "deciding to venture into other details".

It states that Lebanon, in the meantime, was committed to a just and comprehensive peace that provided guarantees to all, while it was of the view that any Israeli withdrawal under pressure from the Resistance was a major victory for Lebanon and for resolution 425 (1978) itself. "It is a victory on which it is difficult to bargain in the absence of the clarifications sought and given the customary Israeli manoeuvring", the letter concludes.

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