vendredi 20 juillet 2007

UN official warns that arms smuggling from Syria threatens Resolution 1701

Williams says lebanese security provided evidence of weapons flow

Syrian arms smuggling to militant groups in Lebanon threatens implementation of a peace deal that ended last year's war with Israel, a UN special envoy said late Wednesday.

Michael Williams, UN coordinator for the mIddle East peace process, talked to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on progress implementing Resolution 1701, which halted the war with Israel in the summer of 2006. "A great deal has been achieved but I think we're entering a more difficult period," Williams said.

"The continuation of that arms smuggling is a serious challenge to 1701 implementation." After the Security Council's meeting, the United States accused Syrie and Iran of playing a negative role in Lebanon and said there is clear evidence of arms smuggling across the Syrian border to terrorist groups.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the United States had sent a clear message in the meeting on "the negative role that Syria and Iran are playing and called on them to cease and desist from their negative activities" in Lebanon. "We also made it clear that we condemn all efforts to destabilize Lebanon and expressed particular concern with regard to the arms transfers that are taking place particularly across the Syrian border," Khalilzad told reporters after the session.

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari dismissed allegations that arms were being smuggled across his country's border with neighboring Lebanon. "We denied it many times and we are still denying it," he told reporters after the meeting.

A UN-appointed team that assessed the border reported late last month that security was too lax to prevent arms smuggling. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria and Iran to do more to prevent arms smuggling into Lebanon, citing Lebanese and Israeli government allegations of violations of the UN arms embargo.

Khalilzad said there was clear evidence of "arms transfers to terrorist groups" inside Lebanon's borders. "There is evidence of preparations by groups such as Fatah al-Islam, preparations by groups such as PFLP-General Command that is also carrying out some preparations for attacks. There are arms that are coming in for Hizbullah," he said. Weapons transfers to Hizbullah are banned under the UN resolution that ended the 34-day war.

Jaafari claimed the information about arms smuggling provided to the Security Council came only from Israeli intelligence and none of it was from Lebanese authorities. However, Williams said "virtually all" of the arms smuggling documented in the secretary general's report to the Security Council last month came from the Lebanese government or Lebanese security agencies. "I think the situation is very serious," he told reporters.

Source : The Daily Star