AP: U.S. Ambassador John Bolton accused Syria and Iran on Monday of trying to destabilize Lebanon’s democratically elected government by violating a U.N. arms embargo. Associated Press
By EDITH M. LEDERER
Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – U.S. Ambassador John Bolton accused Syria and Iran on Monday of trying to destabilize Lebanon’s democratically elected government by violating a U.N. arms embargo.
Bolton stressed that Syria’s obligations to respect a U.N. arms embargo authorized by the Security Council resolution that ended the 34-day Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in August “are particularly important as it is the one country other than Israel that borders Lebanon.”
Syria and Iran are supporters of Hezbollah, providing weaponry, training and funding to the group.
He called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to abide by the commitment he made to Secretary-General Kofi Annan to support the resolution and the arms embargo.
In a speech to the U.N. Security Council, Bolton welcomed the Lebanese government’s extension of its authority throughout the south of the country for the first time in almost 40 years and its deployment along the eastern part of the U.N.-drawn boundary with Israel and the border with Syria.
“Despite this advance, we continue to be concerned that Syria and Iran are actively trying to destabilize the democratically elected government of Lebanon …,” he said. “We call on Syria and Iran to abide by their obligations to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence.”
Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari told reporters his country was fully complying with the arms embargo and all U.N. resolutions. The Lebanese defense and foreign ministers and a Lebanese intelligence chief had denied reports of Syrian violations, he told Al-Arabiya television.
The spokesman for Iran’s U.N. Mission was unavailable for comment.
But Terje Roed-Larsen, the top U.N. envoy for Syria-Lebanon issues, said representatives of the Lebanese government “have stated publicly and also in conversations with us that there has been arms coming across the border into Lebanon.”
The U.N. has not received any information on quantities and types of weapons or where they come from, however.
Israel has said enforcement of the arms embargo, which blocks any entity in Lebanon except the national government from obtaining weapons from abroad, is crucial.
Bolton’s made his remarks to the closed-door council meeting on implementation of Resolution 1559, which was adopted in September 2004 and called for the extension of Lebanese authority throughout the south and the disarming of all militias in the country.
The Security Council said in a presidential statement at the end of the meeting that “important progress” has been made toward the implementation of the resolution, particularly through the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south.
But the council also noted that some provisions of the resolution have yet to be implemented, namely the disbanding of militias, strict respect for Lebanon’s “sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence,” and free and fair presidential elections “without any foreign interference and influence.”
In his report to the council earlier this month on implementation of 1559, Annan said Lebanon should seize the opportunity resulting from the end of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict by establishing diplomatic relations with Syria and resolving the dispute over Chebaa Farms, a plot of land along its border with Israel and Syria.
Syrian troops only withdrew from Lebanese territory after the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a longtime opponent of Syria, provoked an outcry that eventually forced Syria to relent.
Chebaa Farms was captured by Israel when its forces seized Syria’s Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war.
The United Nations determined that the area is Syrian, and that Syria and Israel should negotiate its fate. But Lebanon claims the Chebaa Farms – a claim backed by Syria – and Hezbollah continues to fight over the disputed land, arguing that Israel’s occupation justifies its “resistance.”
Roed Larsen called the issue “very complex,” saying U.N. cartographers are working “full speed” to analyze what the territory encompasses.