The Associated Press
April 16, 2008 - 6:00pm

The UN Security Council called Tuesday for the disarming of Hezbollah and all other militias in Lebanon and greater progress toward a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution to the conflict between Lebanon and Israel.

A statement adopted by consensus by the 15-member council reiterates its commitment to the full implementation of all provisions of Resolution 1701 which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah in August 2006.

That resolution reiterates a call for the disarming of all militias and bans arms transfers to them. It calls on the government to secure its borders and entry points to prevent the entry into Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.

It also calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution based on full respect for the UN-drawn Blue Line along their border, security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, and the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon so there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state.

The statement adopted Tuesday took note of the progress and concerns expressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his latest report on implementation of the resolution and emphasize the need for greater progress on all the key issues required for a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution.

It also called on all concerned parties, in particular in the region, to intensify their efforts in implementing resolution 1701, including by fully cooperating with the secretary-general in this regard.

In his last report in March, Ban noted that Israel says Hezbollah is rearming and has an arsenal that includes 10,000 long-range rockets and 20,000 short-range rockets in southern Lebanon.

The report did not confirm Israel's claim, but Ban reiterated his concern about Hezbollah's public statements and persistent reports pointing to breaches of a UN arms embargo. He also expressed concern at the threats of open war against Israel by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Ban also expressed regret that the persistent deterioration of the political climate and the prolonged deadlock over the election of a new Lebanese president - which remains unresolved today - have made it impossible to deal with the disarmament issue.

In a report in late October, Ban drew attention to alleged breaches of the arms embargo and the transfer of sophisticated weapons from Iran and Syria - both strong backers of Hezbollah - across the Lebanon-Syria border. Syria disputed the claim.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said negotiations on the good, acceptable statement took time because it involved different countries inside and outside the Security Council.

"With regard to the implementation, I think there are pluses and minuses there," he said. "We would like to see more progress on disarming militias."

France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said: "We are very satisfied by the fact that the Security Council was in a position to adopt unanimously a presidential statement to the end of supporting Resolution 1701 implementation."


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