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ARABS-UN - Apr. 27 - Lebanon Unsure About Troops.

PM Selim Al Hoss says Lebanon had yet to decide on the deployment of UN troops in the south after Israel withdraws - a day after saying the UN would help police the area. Hoss says in a statement: "We reject any security arrangements that precede an Israeli pullout and we refuse in any case to police the border for Israel", adding: "As for the international force, everything relating to that depends on approval by the Lebanese government...This is Lebanon's clear stance on the issue". (Israel has vowed to pull its troops out of Lebanon by July, ending its 22-year occupation of a border strip. UN Secretary-General Annan has said the 4,500 UN Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] may have to be strengthened to fill the gap left by the departing Israelis.) On Apr. 26, Hoss said Lebanese authorities will move into the south after Israeli troops leave, but stopped short of saying whether the army would be deployed there. He said: "The situation in the areas that Israel will quit will be strengthened through international [United Nations] forces... The situation will be under control so as to enable the legitimate authorities to extend their sovereignty of the sea, air and land of the liberated areas". (But the view Hoss expressed on Apr. 26, described by the Beirut press as the clearest by a Lebanese official so far, appeared to contradict Syrian FM Shara's doubts about the mission of the UN force, which may have an expanded French contingent.) After lengthy talks with French officials in Paris, Shara asked: "Would these troops appease tension or fuel it"? He told reporters: "It would be a disaster if the French force tried to deter Palestinians and Lebanese and not Israelis", adding: "Could it deter Israel from bombing Lebanon"? (Syria and Lebanon have warned Israel to expect turbulent borders if it pulls out without a peace agreement that would include withdrawal from Syria's occupied Golan Heights. Lebanese Pres. Lahoud has even said Palestinian factions based in Lebanon could launch attacks across the border, the last active battle front in the ME. At present, Hizbollah guerrillas supported by Syria and Iran pose the main threat to Israel's occupation force in the south.)
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Apr 29, 2000
Words:369
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