In his meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan promised that 3,500 additional soldiers, mostly French, will arrive within the week to augment the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon. A meeting is scheduled for today at the UN headquarters in New York for the representatives of all countries contributing soldiers to the international force.
“It is our duty to ensure that the situation will not recur,” said Annan to Livni in their meeting.
Livni responded and said that as far as Israel is concerned, as long as the kidnapped soldiers are not released, that is a major violation of Resolution 1701. Livni asked Annan to meet with the families of the kidnapped soldiers. Annan agreed and said he would meet them soon. Simultaneously, Annan intends on sending a senior team to the area led by Terje Larsen to promote the implementation of the UN Resolution. Annan himself will arrive in the area within a few weeks.
In reference to the multinational force Livni said that Israel is expecting the force to have real military power so the arms embargo can be enforced. “Israel cannot lift the air and naval blockade on Lebanon as long as the enforcement capabilities of the international force and the Lebanese Army to prevent Hizballah from rearming have not been proven. This is the reason the blockade was imposed in the first place,” she said. Livni asked Annan to expedite the formation of the international force and its deployment to Lebanon. “We expect the force to arrive as soon as possible and to be a serious and well trained force,” Livni added.
Livni emphasized that as long as the force does not have effective enforcement capabilities, Israel could not withdraw from southern Lebanon. Annan was optimistic to the prospects of the full implementation of the Resolution and the formation of the international force soon.