Annan calls for regional cooperation

UN chief: Time is right to build "normal relations between Israel and Lebanon."

Annan gestures 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Annan gestures 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in Syria on Thursday to press its government to join international efforts to stop the flow of arms to Hizbullah and win the release of Israeli soldiers held captive by the group. Annan's visit to Syria, which wields influence over Hizbullah, follows stops in Lebanon and Israel, where he demanded those governments respect and fully implement the UN Security Council resolution that ended the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah on Aug. 14. The UN chief flew to Damascus from Jordan, where he said the time was ripe for normal ties between Lebanon and Israel. "This is the opportunity to move things for normal relations between Israel and Lebanon, if Resolution 1701 is implemented in its entirety," Annan said. "We need to implement 1701 and capitalize on building relations between Israel and Lebanon" as well as with other Arab neighbors to "stabilize the region." Addressing Syria without naming it, Annan said he "would want to see the neighboring states extend their full cooperation to resolve all outstanding issues related to the border." Annan also criticized Israel's use of cluster bombs, saying "we need to be severely careful during wars." "I call for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, which should not be used as targets," he said. He said the UN had asked the Israelis to say where cluster bombs were used so that they could be cleaned up quickly.