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ARABS-UN - June 10 - Team Resumes Work On S. Lebanon Border.

Pressed to move quickly by UN secretary-general Annan, peacekeepers verifying the Israeli troop withdrawal from southern Lebanon resume border inspection on the Lebanese side after a daylong hold-up. 10 UN vehicles set out in the morning from Naqoura, a Lebanese border town on the Mediterranean coast where the UN Interim Force in Lebanon is based. UN officers are accompanied by Lebanese army officers. (Although Israel declared its withdrawal from South Lebanon on May 24, the UN must verify it under Security Council Resolution 425 before deploying peacekeepers along the international border.) On June 9, Annan instructed peacekeepers to complete their job urgently - if possible, within 24 hours. According to diplomatic sources at the UN, Annan is planning a visit to the ME beginning on June 15. On June 9, the verification process was held when Lebanese officials disagreed with parts of the border line drawn by the UN. They demanded clarification from mapmakers, and a UN cartographer was called in to join June 10's verification. (It is not confirmed if the cartographer is with the team on June 10.)

Also on June 9, Lebanese protesters stoned a UN team working to verify the border on the Israeli side of the fence. Residents of the Arab village of Ghajar, which was sliced in half by the new line, have threatened to evict peacekeepers. (The 9-nation UN Interim Force in Lebanon, comprising 4,500 peacekeepers, has been deployed in parts of the south since 1978. But its deployment to the border was hindered by the security zone Israel established in 1985 to protect its northern communities from cross-border guerrilla raids. Meanwhile, the state-run 'NNA' reported late June 9 that the Lebanese government plans to form a strike force of 1,000 army and police troops to maintain security in areas vacated by the Israeli army. It said 500 army soldiers would be drawn from anti-terrorism and anti-espionage units as well as military police. The report said the rest of the force will be made up of 500 Internal Security policemen and will be under Interior Ministry command. (Although the Lebanese army presence will be small, its deployment will be the government's 1st firm step to take control of the former security zone, where Shiite guerrillas have moved in to fill the vacuum, rounding up suspected pro-Israeli militiamen with little intervention from authorities. Hundreds of police officers, State Security and military intelligence agents have been sent to the area, but they have stayed away from the border where civilians have been throwing stones at Israeli soldiers on the other side of the fence.) The Lebanese government says it will not send army combat units to the border because it is not Israel's policeman. (Lebanon has said border security will be guaranteed when Israel negotiates peace with Arab states including Syria.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Jun 10, 2000
Words:467
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