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UN encouraged by Lebanon's political progress, says senior official

19 January 2010 – The United Nations is “very encouraged” by political progress made in Lebanon since a new government was formed late last year, a senior official with the world body told the Lebanese Foreign Minister today.

During his first meeting with Ali Shami in Beirut today, Michael Williams, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, said the two men conferred on the general situation in the Middle Eastern country and its “rich cooperation” with the UN in many fields.

The minister expressed his confidence about Lebanon’s future after the formation of the new Government and because of a better regional atmosphere, such as its improving relationship with Turkey.

“We discussed today some of Lebanon’s priorities in terms of political, social and economic development, and I relayed to the minister the readiness of the United Nations, through its many offices in Lebanon, to assist wherever necessary,” Mr. Williams told reporters.

They also talked about the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, which called for a full cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah and greatly increased the UN peacekeeping force – known as UNIFIL – in the conflict zone.

Mr. Shami voiced concern over the daily Israeli air violations of Lebanese airspace and stressed the need for Israel’s complete withdrawal from Lebanon.

“These are violations of resolution 1701 and the United Nations continues to call on Israel to halt these violations in the strongest terms,” the Special Coordinator said, adding that the UN wants all sides to step up their efforts to implement the resolution.

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