Pressure on UN Ban mounting for Syria arms smuggling claims

The US, Britain and France want UN Ban to pursue ways to stop weapons alledgedly flowing into Lebanon over the Syrian border.

Pressure on UN Ban mounting for Syria arms smuggling claims
The United States, Britain and France want UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to pursue ways to stop weapons alledgedly flowing into Lebanon over the Syrian border, according to a draft UN statement.

The policy statement, which its backers hope will be approved by the 15-member UN Security Council as soon as this week, also calls on Syria to do more to control its border with Lebanon and for Iran to abide by an arms embargo.

Unlike a resolution, all 15 members of the council have to agree to a statement, which means the text could be revised.

The UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Michael Williams, claimed last week that Syrian arms smuggling to groups in Lebanon threatens implementation of a peace deal that ended last summer's war with Israel.

"The Council also calls for enhanced cross-border cooperation to secure the Syrian-Lebanese border," the draft statement said.

It welcomes a report by a committee of experts appointed by Ban that recommended a radical overhaul of border procedures which it said were largely incapable of preventing smuggling in their current state. The statement asks Ban to report back on implementing the recommendations.

"The Security Council ... expresses grave concern at persistent reports of breaches of the arms embargo along the Lebanon-Syria border," said the draft.

Syria has consistently denied smuggling weapons.

The statement would also express concern over "the increase in Israeli violations of Lebanese air space" — something Syria has frequently complained about — and call for the immediate and unconditional release of two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hezbollah.

A stepped-up UN force was deployed in the south of Lebanon after a truce halted Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah on Aug. 14 last year.

The UN Security Council resolution that led to the truce called for 15,000 UN troops to join a similar number of Lebanese army troops deploying in the south.

The draft statement also addresses the contentious issue of the disputed Shebaa Farms area on the border between Israel, Syria and Lebanon, calling it a "key issue" in the process of implementing the Security Council resolution ending the war.

A UN survey of the Shebaa Farms is expected to be completed by September, paving the way to talks on the fate of the Israeli-controlled area.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2007, 17:57
YORUM EKLE