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In this context, Lebanon stresses the need to maintain the presence of UNIFIL in accordance with resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), without any change in its strength or its mandate, especially in the light of the conditions prevailing in the area, which have worsened and grown extremely dangerous. This trend is perfectly in keeping with the conclusion you reached in paragraph 11 of your report S/2001/423 of 30 April 2001, to the effect that the reconfiguration of the Force might be reconsidered if “there is any drastic change in the region”.
Given the foregoing, it is my Government’s belief that any reconfiguration of the Force would undermine the existing sense of security and safety and would hinder the full implementation of the Force’s mandate.
The Government of Lebanon wishes to emphasize, furthermore, that the continued deployment of UNIFIL exemplifies the commitment of the international community to the restoration of the full sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon, as stipulated in resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978).
The Government of Lebanon is continuing to take further steps for the effective reinstatement of its authority in the liberated areas, while the Lebanese authorities continue to operationalize public services in the South with a view to its integration with the other regions of Lebanon.
Lebanon hereby calls upon the Security Council to make efforts for the release of those Lebanese who have for years been detained in Israeli prisons illegally and in barefaced defiance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols. It urgently demands the removal of the hundreds of thousands of mines left in Lebanese territory by the Israeli occupation, which continue to bring death and injury to civilians and to restrict their freedom of activity and movement, especially now that the United Nations has become aware of the existence of a greater number of such mines.
Lebanon reaffirms its commitment to the peace process in the Middle East with a view to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region based on compliance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the principle of land for peace, in accordance with the Madrid terms of reference. The “Arab peace initiative”, adopted by the Arab States at the Beirut Summit last March, was a historical step in the direction of a just and comprehensive peace that was met by Israel with rejection and further acts of aggression.
I take this opportunity to pay tribute, on behalf of the Government of Lebanon, to UNIFIL, its commanders and soldiers and the troop-contributing countries for their tireless efforts and the sacrifices they have made to implement the Force’s mandate.
Furthermore, the Government of Lebanon wishes to convey to you its appreciation for your tireless efforts, which help to enhance the strength of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.
I should be grateful if you would have this letter circulated as a document of the Security Council.