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Levy: Israel Won't Deviate From Lebanese Withdrawal Plan.

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

Israel's foreign minister says the United Nations is ready to cooperate with Israel's plan to withdraw its troops from southern Lebanon in July. The Israeli official spoke with news reporters in Geneva after discussing the withdrawal plan with the UN Secretary-General.

Foreign Minister David Levy says Israel will not deviate from its decision to withdraw its military forces from Southern Lebanon in July. He says the decision is in line with Israel's interests and will fulfill a Security Council resolution that calls for Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.

Levy says he had a good meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He says the secretary-general agrees with Israel's position. And - speaking through a translator - he says Annan told him the United Nations will cooperate with Israel's need to bring about the withdrawal in a safe and orderly manner.

"Israel is ready and willing to cooperate with the United Nations in order to set up together the mechanism in the field itself that will bring about the implementation of the resolution. Also, together with the efforts and the forces and abilities according to the decision and as it was said, there is no need for any further or any additional added decision or resolution of any kind in order to bring about the implementation of the resolution in all its aspects."

Levy says Israel will do whatever it can to avoid any escalation and deterioration of the situation. The United Nations has a multi-national peacekeeping force which was sent to southern Lebanon under a 1978 Security Council resolution.

Levy says it is up to the United Nations to decide if its peacekeeping force is strong enough to deal with the changed situation, or if it will have to be strengthened. Levy says Israel has the force and the will to defend its citizens and security in case of attack.

Speaking in French, Levy warned if Israel is threatened, it will respond in a way the attackers will greatly regret. He says he finds it strange that Israel should be attacked for its decision to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. He says it is bizarre to be attacked by the very people who opposed Israel's presence in Lebanon.

Levy says Israel would prefer to have the withdrawal take place as part of a negotiated settlement with Syria. He says direct negotiations are the only way to achieve peace. But he says Syria does not want to talk with Israel.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Date:Apr 5, 2000
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