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Lebanon: UN envoy met with Hizbollah official on domestic and security issues

Continuing efforts to ease tensions in Lebanon, a senior United Nations official today held wide-ranging talks with the international relations chief of Hizbollah.

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams’ meeting with Ammar Moussawi followed several last week with Lebanese officials, after which he reiterated his concern over the crisis that has put on hold the work of key national institutions and called once again for dialogue to resolve existing tensions.

“We spoke first of all about Security Council Resolution 1701 and agreed that stability has been restored in south Lebanon and along the Blue Line,” he said after today’s talks, referring to the resolution which ended the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizbollah.

He briefed Mr. Moussawi on the possibility of an Israeli military withdrawal from the northern part of Ghajar, a village that straddles the so-called Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon, stressing that this would not mean that Israel had met all its obligations under resolution 1701.

The UN has frequently condemned Israeli over-flights of Lebanese territory in breach of the resolution, which also calls for the disarming of all Lebanese groups outside the regular army. In his reports on the country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has noted that Hizbollah has maintained its armed capacity.

In his most recent report last month, he voiced concern at the “marked rise” in political tensions and recent challenges to State authority by Hizbollah and some of its allies, noting the “widespread proliferation” of weapons and continued presence of armed groups operating outside the control of the State in violation of resolution 1701.

Mr. Williams said the two men discussed the domestic situation and he voiced the hope that Wednesday’s cabinet meeting “will be able to make progress even on the most difficult questions that are before it.”

He added that one element of reassurance for Lebanon “is that it is never alone and that the efforts of many of its friends, especially Syria and Saudi Arabia, are aimed at trying to help it reach a solution.”

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