bolton 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
US Ambassador John Bolton expressed concern that Syria and Iran are trying to destabilize Lebanon's democratically elected government by violating a UN arms embargo.
Bolton stressed on Monday that Syria's obligations to respect a UN arms embargo authorized by the Security Council resolution that ended the 34-day Israeli-Hizbullah conflict in August "are particularly important as it is the one country other than Israel that borders Lebanon."
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He called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to abide by the commitment he made to Secretary-General Kofi Annan to support the resolution and the arms embargo.
In a speech to the UN Security Council, Bolton welcomed the Lebanese government's extension of its authority throughout the south of the country for the first time in almost 40 years and its deployment along the eastern part of the UN-drawn boundary with Israel and the border with Syria.
"Despite this advance, we continue to be concerned that Syria and Iran are actively trying to destabilize the democratically elected government of Lebanon ...," he said. "We call on Syria and Iran to abide by their obligations to respect Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence."
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters his country was fully complying with the arms embargo and all UN resolutions. The Lebanese defense and foreign ministers and a Lebanese intelligence chief had denied reports of Syrian violations, he told Al-Arabiya television.
But Terje Roed-Larsen, the top UN envoy for Syria-Lebanon issues, said representatives of the Lebanese government "have stated publicly and also in conversations with us that there has been arms coming across the border into Lebanon."
"The consistent position of the government of Syria has been that, "yes, there might be arms smuggling over the border, but this is arms smuggling and that the border is porous and very difficult to control," he said.
The UN has not received any information on quantities and types of weapons or where they came from, however, and it cannot confirm the Lebanese government reports because UN troops have not been asked by the Lebanese army to monitor the border, he said.
Israel has said enforcement of the arms embargo, which blocks any entity in Lebanon except the national government from obtaining weapons from abroad, is crucial.
Bolton's remarks to the closed-door council meeting on implementation of Resolution 1559, which was adopted in September 2004 and called for the extension of Lebanese authority throughout the south and the disarming of all militias in the country.
The Security Council said in a presidential statement at the end of the meeting that "important progress" has been made toward the implementation of Resolution 1559, particularly through the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south.
But the council also noted "with regret" that some provisions of the resolution have yet to be implemented, namely the disbanding of militias, strict respect for Lebanon's "sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence," and free and fair presidential elections "without any foreign interference and influence."
The council urged all parties to cooperate fully with the Lebanese government and the secretary-general to fully implement the resolution.
Roed-Larsen called the situation in Lebanon "worrisome."
"The political rhetoric shows that there are very high tensions, and I think we have to look at the situation in Lebanon with all caution. And there are reasons for being worried about where this is heading," he said.