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Lebanon’s Aoun Calls for UNIFIL Mandate Renewal with No Changes

Lebanon’s Aoun Calls for UNIFIL Mandate Renewal with No Changes
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By Staff, Agencies

Lebanese President Michel Aoun met Wednesday with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to urge them to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping force in south Lebanon.

UNIFIL’s mandate expires in August 2020 and the “Israeli” entity and the United States have been lobbying for its powers to be enhanced as a term of its renewal.

In his address, Aoun stressed, “The Lebanese Constitution stipulates that private properties must be respected and that accessing them requires prior authorization and escort from the concerned Lebanese authorities,” he further added, “As I stress that preserving stability in the South remains the responsibility of the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese Army, I point out that the Army offers all the necessary facilities requested by the UNIFIL to ensure the good performance of its duties”.

Aoun renewed the UNIFIL’s mandate saying, “The Lebanese Constitution stipulates that private properties must be respected and that accessing them requires prior authorization and escort from the concerned Lebanese authorities. As I stress that preserving stability in the South remains the responsibility of the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese Army, I point out that the Army offers all the necessary facilities requested by the UNIFIL to ensure the good performance of its duties”.

The country’s Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti told local newspaper al-Joumhouria ahead of the meeting Wednesday that Aoun will warn the Chinese, French, Russian, British and US ambassadors against any such move.

“The meeting will be in itself a message about the seriousness of the Lebanese position in regards to the role of UNIFIL,” Hitti said. “Lebanon will inform the ambassadors ... of its firm position in rejection of any change in the number of international forces or in their function.”

 “The reason for the meeting is that Lebanon inferred from UN discussions ... attempts and suggestions aiming to bring about change in Lebanon or to weaken its position,” Hitti said. “We wanted to inform the ambassadors of Lebanon’s firm and serious stance on this issue.”

Hezbollah’s Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah previously spoke out against the US and “Israeli” attempts to expand UNIFIL’s mandate.

“If they want [UNIFIL] to stay, they're welcome. We also have no problem if they leave ... But we consider expanding its mandate as infringing on Lebanese sovereignty. The time where Lebanon's sovereignty is no longer respected has passed,” he said in an interview last Tuesday.

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