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Department of Public Information (DPI)
31 August 2006
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
ACTIVITIES OF UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL IN LEBANON, ISRAEL,
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, 28-30 AUGUST
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Beirut on Monday, 28 August, where he was greeted at the airport by Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh.
He told the press [
], upon arrival at Beirut airport, that he thought it was “important that I come here myself to discuss with the Lebanese authorities the aftermath of the war and the measures being taken to implement UN resolutions, and also, to underscore international solidarity.”
His first meeting was with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which was also attended by Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh and senior Government officials.
He then met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, after which the Secretary-General told the press [
] that “There is lots of work to be done.” He said he had assured Mr. Berri that the international community will want to work very effectively with the parties to ensure that resolution 1701 is implemented to the fullest, “and that we have a long-term peace in this region”.
The Secretary-General then had a second meeting with Prime Minister Siniora and members of his Cabinet. At a joint press conference [
], Mr. Siniora welcomed the Secretary-General in Lebanon and said that their discussions had covered a wide range of issues related to Security Council resolution 1701, including the blockade, detainees, withdrawal, Shabaa farms and mines. He expressed his full confidence in Secretary-General Annan and thanked him for his efforts on behalf of the Lebanese Government and people of Lebanon. He also stressed that Lebanon was committed to the implementation of resolution 1701 and the Government’s seven-point plan, and that the Lebanese army was now deployed in the south, at airports and seaports.
The Secretary-General thanked the Prime Minister for very constructive and good discussions. “My heart goes out to the Lebanese people”, he said, “to the families who have lost loved ones, to the orphans who have been left behind.”
“The unity of the Lebanese people has made a deep impression on the international community. We are here to help, to assist and serve you, based on your own national decisions, to strengthen your sovereignty and independence, based on the requirements of Security Council resolution 1701”, he added.
He said that he was urging his Israeli interlocutors to lift immediately the blockade on Lebanon, and, he also renewed his call for the abducted soldiers to be freed, and, as a first step, to be transferred under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) either to the Government of Lebanon or to a third party. He said that the United Nations would be prepared to play a role, if required. “And I offer our services”, he added.
The Secretary-General then visited a war affected neighbourhood in southern Beirut (Haret Hreik) and proceeded from there to pay his respects at the memorial of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and later met with his son, Saad Hariri.
That evening, Secretary-General Annan met with Serge Brammertz, the Commissioner of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
At 9:15 p.m., the Secretary-General attended a meeting of the Security Coordination Mechanism at the Prime Minister’s office. From the Lebanese side, the meeting was attended by the Prime Minister of Lebanon, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior, the Commander-in-Chief of the Lebanese Army, the General in charge of Internal Security Forces and the Secretary General of the High Defense Council, as well as the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s office. Discussions focused on the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in south Lebanon.
The Secretary-General, then, attended a working dinner hosted by Prime Minister Siniora.
During his meetings with Lebanese officials in Beirut, Secretary-General Annan was accompanied, among others, by Messrs. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations; Terje Roed-Larsen, his Special Envoy for the Implementation of Security Council resolution 1559; Vijay Nambiar, a Special Political Adviser; and Geir Pedersen, the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in Lebanon.
On Tuesday, the Secretary-General met with the United Nations country team in Beirut, briefing them on the purpose of his visit and expressed his appreciation for their steadfastness over the past five weeks.
He then flew to Naqoura, south Lebanon, to visit the headquarters of UNIFIL. He was given an operational briefing by Force Commander Major General Alain Pellegrini, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in memory of UNIFIL soldiers who fell in service of peace, and had lunch with peacekeepers.
Before departure from Naqoura, the Secretary-General spoke briefly to the press [
He then took a helicopter tour of the Blue Line, visiting the observation posts at Markaba and Hula, which had sustained damage during the recent hostilities. He also overflew the bunker at Khiyam, where four observers were killed by Israeli artillery.
The Secretary-General then proceeded to Jerusalem, where his first meeting was with the families of the three abducted Israeli soldiers. He expressed his deep sympathy to the families and said he was engaged with all parties in an effort to secure their release.
That evening, the Secretary-General held a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz. The Minister began by expressing his deep regret over the killing of the four United Nations soldiers during the recent hostilities, which he called “a very sad mistake”. Speaking to the press later, the Secretary-General made a statement [
] during which he again stressed the need to lift the blockade of Lebanon so that the country could go on with normal commercial activities and rebuild its economy.
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General had a working breakfast with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Prime Minister’s residence. They discussed implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 in all its aspects.
At a joint press conference [
] after the meeting, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations would do its best to ensure that an effective and credible international peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon would be deployed as soon as possible. Mr. Annan called for all the parties, including neighbouring countries, to support the resolution and implement it in full. The Secretary-General appealed to the Israelis to urgently lift the blockade on Lebanon, which would not only help resolve the economic crisis but also strengthen Lebanon’s democratic Government with which Israel has repeatedly said it has no problems. He once again called for the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers.
The Secretary-General then held a meeting with United Nations staff working in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
On Wednesday morning, he also met with the Israeli Vice-Premier, Shimon Peres, with whom he discussed implementation of resolution 1701 and the situation in the Palestinian Territory.
The Secretary-General concluded his visit to Israel with a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Afterwards, at a press conference [
], the Secretary-General highlighted the importance of creating a weapons-free zone in southern Lebanon. He added that the full implementation of resolution 1701 provides a foundation and a basis to move forward and settle the differences between Israel and Lebanon once and for all.
The Secretary-General then flew to Ramallah where he met with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. They discussed the political and economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. At a press conference [
] after the meeting, the Secretary-General said that he and President Abbas had agreed that an end to the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian State is key to resolving the problems in the troubled region.
As he left the President’s office, he also met with families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General flew on a Jordanian military helicopter to Amman, Jordan.
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For information media • not an official record