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Security Council Discusses Security Transfer in South Lebanon

09 August 2006

U.S. envoy says arrangements must ensure Hezbollah fighters will not return

United Nations – Diplomats in New York are working around the clock to revise the draft U.N. Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict that would provide for an effective security presence in southern Lebanon to ensure that Hezbollah fighters do not return to the area as Israeli forces withdraw.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton met with Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa August 9 as Bolton and French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere worked to modify the resolution.

Co-sponsors France and the United States presented the text, which called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, late last week and expressed their hope that the Security Council would be able to move quickly to a vote.  (See related article.)

However, Moussa along with an Arab League delegation led by Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir Al-Thani and Lebanese Special Envoy Tarek Mitri met with the entire 15-nation Security Council August 8 to voice their concerns about the U.S.-French draft and propose changes.

"There are some important issues that remain to be discussed and that's what we're trying to take account of in the negotiations," Bolton told journalists outside the Security Council chambers.  "And we're moving as fast as we can.  We're just going from one meeting to another."

Lebanon's proposal to deploy 15,000 troops in a buffer zone along the Israeli-Lebanese border is significant and the negotiators are trying to take that offer into account in the resolution, the U.S. ambassador said.

"The strategic issue, however, remains the same as it has been from near the outset of this, which is that . . . we don't want Hezbollah to re-infiltrate the southern part of Lebanon," he said.

The objective of the entire Security Council, not just the United States and France, "is not to get ourselves into a situation where we fall back into the status quo ante," Bolton said.

“Details matter,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, talking to reporters in Washington August 9 about the transfer of control from Israeli forces to a stabilization force.

“One of the most complex tasks that any military can perform -- and it's a difficult task even within a military -- is the hand-over of territory from one military to another.  And that has to be done carefully,” he said.

“Everybody agrees that Israel needs to withdraw as a part of this cessation of hostilities,” he said.  “But we are not going to replace something with nothing.  Because if you do that … you once again have put all the ingredients back for more violence, more instability and the ability of a terrorist group to plunge the region into violence and cause more loss of life.”

Bolton said that part of the discussion at the Security Council is focused on the 2,000-troop U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  "How to beef up UNIFIL, in what respects, how to change its mandate, how to make it more of a force that can help participate in that the new security structure."

McCormack said the new forces would have to be “real troops with real capabilities.  You know, just somebody standing there and showing up is not enough.  These guys would need to be capable.  They would need to be disciplined and good at their jobs, and be able to fulfill the mandate that's outlined for them” by the Security Council resolution.

"Events are moving.  It's a bit of a moving target, I grant you, but we're still working hard to bring this thing to closure," Bolton said.

McCormack said, “The point is to try to get to a solution that is acceptable to all parties and that meets the important standard of being a durable solution.”

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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