BEIRUT - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in
Lebanon on Friday to discuss attacks on UN peacekeepers in the south, a
UN-backed tribunal that has indicted Hezbollah men over Rafik
al-Hariri's killing, and the fallout of a revolt in neighboring Syria.RELATED:
secretary-general's trip made waves even before he arrived, with one
Hezbollah leader saying he was not welcome, a stance criticized by
Lebanese politicians opposed to the armed Shi'ite Islamist movement and
its Syrian and Iranian patrons.
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accepted an expansion of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in
the south after its devastating 2006 war with Israel, but rejects a UN
Security Council resolution that demands that it lay down its weapons,
as all other Lebanese armed groups did after the 1975-90 civil war.
an interview that Beirut's an-Nahar
daily published on Friday, Ban
reaffirmed that Hezbollah, which says it needs arms to defend itself and
Lebanon against Israel, should disarm.
"No state can work successfully without a monopoly over the legitimate use of force," Ban declared.
troops came under three attacks last year in which Italian and French
soldiers were wounded. A rocket was launched into Israel in November and
another rocket launching was attempted last month. No group claimed
"There are no explicit fears that there is a new
climate of hostility to the United Nations," a diplomatic source said.
"But there is concern, which the secretary-general will emphasize, over
the attacks (on UNIFIL) in May, July and December."
Indictment by Special Tribunal for Lebanon angers Hezbollah
Hezbollah, the most powerful faction in Lebanon, is angry at the
indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) of four of its
members over the assassination of Hariri, a former Lebanese prime
minister, on Beirut's seafront in 2005.
It denies any part in the bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others and
vows not to hand over the indicted men. Hezbollah also wants Lebanon's
unity government, of which it is a part, to cut off funding for the
tribunal and end cooperation with it.
Lebanon paid $32 million, its 49 percent share of the costs, in
November, using a maneuver by which Lebanese banks gave the money to a
special fund whose use did not need cabinet approval.
Ban said he was sure Beirut would continue to respect its obligations.
"I am very glad the Lebanese government decided to transfer the 49
percent of funds to the STL," he told an-Nahar.
The UN chief said he would decide soon, in consultation with the
Security Council and the Lebanese government, whether to extend the
STL's mandate, which expires in March.
Ban, due to speak on Sunday at a conference on democratic transitions,
said he had repeatedly urged Syria to halt the killings that have turned
a 10-month revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad into one of the
bloodiest of Arab uprisings.
"The Syrian authorities must respond to the legitimate democratic
aspirations of the Syrian people," he told an-Nahar, adding that the
Security Council, so far divided over Syria, should find a way to speak
with one voice on the issue.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in the
unrest, which Syria blames on armed "terrorists" it says have killed
2,000 members of the security forces.
Russia and China have blocked any firm Security Council action against
Syria. The Arab League has sent monitors to find out if Damascus is
complying with an Arab peace plan. If their report next week is
negative, it may refer Syria to the council.