Annan in a bid to bring stability in Lebanon
Annan will start a campaign in which he will urge for help to stabilise Lebanon
August 25, 2006, 06:15
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, is beginning a two-week round of shuttle diplomacy today aimed at getting the United Nations resolution on Lebanon implemented. France has upped the number of troops it is offering and other European nations are expected to announce further contributions soon. Annan's trip will take him from Brussels to Beirut, Jerusalem, then to Palestinian territories and thereafter onto Syria, Iran and other countries in the region.Annan will travel to Beruit where he will press the Lebanese government on the disarmament of Hizbollah. In Israel, he is expected to raise the issue of the continued blockade of Lebanese ports and airports by the Israeli defence force. He will also visit Rammallah in the Palestinian territories, which in recent days has indicated it is being overshadowed by the Lebanese crisis. However, it will be his visits to Iran and Syria that will be the most watched. Need to prevent flow of weapons to HizbollahIran and Syria are key to the implementation of the recent Security Council resolution. Widely believed to be backers of Hizbollah, Annan is expected to urge Tehran and Damascus to prevent the flow of weapons to Hizbollah. Sepfan Dujjaric, Annan's spokesperson, says the UN hopes Iran will respond. Annan's trip to Tehran will coincide with the Security Council deadline on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Tehran has until the end of the month to halt uranium production or they could face sanctions. The nuclear issue is expected to come up and co-operation over Lebanon may help Tehran gain some leverage. In Damascus, Annan will have the same message on Hizbollah - Syria has reacted angrily to suggestions that the expanded UN force may patrol the Syrian Lebanese border. Syria is also key to the disputed territory of Sheeba farms which is occupied by Israel, but claimed by both Damascus and Beruit. Despite Annan's efforts, it is unlikely that the 35 000 troops that the UN wants to be on the ground in a weeks time will be there, but success on this two-week trip will be measured not so much by boots on the ground, but on whether the shaky ceasfire holds until troops finally get there.