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January 12, 11

NEWS / UN chief closely following developments in Lebanon, urges calm and dialogue

12 January 2011 Ė Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is closely monitoring developments in Lebanon and has emphasized the importance of preserving calm there, his spokesperson said today.

ďThe Secretary-General further calls for continuing dialogue among all parties and respect for the constitution and the laws of Lebanon,Ē Mr. Banís spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the UN chief also reiterates his full support for the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

According to press reports, Lebanonís government of national unity collapsed on Wednesday following the resignation from cabinet of 11 ministers from Hizbollah and allied groups. Reports claim that the 11 resigned after months of negotiations brokered by Saudi Arabia and Syria failed to produce a compromise over the Special Tribunal, which is examining the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The situation in Lebanon has been marked by rising tensions in recent months, a situation described by the Secretary-General in a report issued in October as a ďdomestic climate of uncertainty and fragility.Ē

The Special Tribunal is an independent body that was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanonís own inquiry into the massive car bombing that killed Rafik Hariri and 22 other people was seriously flawed.

Last Sunday, Mr. Ban reiterated his support for the Tribunalís work in a meeting in New York with the slain leaderís son and current Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri. During the meeting, Mr. Ban stressed the independence of the Special Tribunal and he said he hoped its work would help end impunity in the country.

Lebanon was also one of the topics the Secretary-General discussed with Saudi Arabiaís King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in New York on Tuesday. At that meeting, Mr. Ban expressed his appreciation for Saudi Arabiaís efforts to support stability in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, today met with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces at the UN position at the border crossing at Ras Al Naqoura.

They discussed the implementation of resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah, the issue of the village of Ghajar, which straddles the so-called Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon, and other matters related to the situation along the Blue Line.




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