Disarm Hezbollah, UN chief tells Lebanon

Ban to focus on UN peacekeepers, Hariri tribunal; condemns "Israeli violations of Lebanon's sovereignty," 'Daily Star' reports.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny)
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon demanded on Friday the disarmament of the anti-Israel Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which had said his visit to Lebanon was not welcome.
"I am deeply concerned about the military capacity of Hezbollah and ... the lack of progress in disarmament," he told a news conference after meeting Lebanese leaders.
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"That is why we discussed this matter very seriously and I strongly encouraged President (Michel) Suleiman to initiate a convening of this national dialogue to address these issues...All these arms outside of the authorized state authority, it's not acceptable," Ban declared.
According to Lebanon's English-language The Daily Star, Ban also condemned Israel Friday for "repeated violations of Lebanon's sovereignty" which he described as a "threat to the United Nation's Interim Force in Lebanon."
According to the report, Ban told Mikati during a meeting Friday that he would discuss the matter with Israeli officials during his impending visit to Israel, and highlighted the importance of Israeli withdrawal from Ghajar.
Makiti reportedly told Ban that Israel disrupts UNFIL's work with its "aggressive practices" and "presence of spy networks."
“Israel does not give any weight to the will of the international community and acts on the basis that it is an exception and international resolutions do not apply to it,” The Daily Star quoted Mikati as saying in the meeting.
Ban also said Friday - to media accompanying him on his trip to Lebanon - that any killing like that of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran earlier this week was to be condemned, according to a UN spokesman.
The UN secretary-general's trip to Lebanon 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.
Hezbollah 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 military arsenal, as all other Lebanese armed groups did after the 1975-90 civil war.
UNIFIL 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 responsibility.
"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."