BEIRUT: The U.N. is probing ways of assisting Lebanese authorities in controlling the border with its neighbor Syria, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said following discussions with Prime Minister Najib Mikati Tuesday.
“We, with donors, have been helping over a period of years but we are looking now with more urgency at what we can do to help the security authorities here in Lebanon to control the border as it should be,” Plumbly, according to a statement from his office, said when asked whether the U.N. has an intention to deploy international peacekeepers along the border with Syria.
The opposition Future parliamentary bloc handed President Michel Sleiman a petition Tuesday in which it urged that the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon to deploy along the northern border with Syria over repeated border violations.
Mikati, according to the prime minister’s office, hailed UNIFIL’s role in south Lebanon and called on the international community to confront repeated Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.
“The meeting also discussed possible means to support the Lebanese Army and enhance its coordination with the UNIFIL,” Mikati’s office said.
According Plumbly’s office, the U.N. diplomat also said the Lebanese government was determined to resolve all the challenges it faces.
“The PM briefed me on the steps that the government and the security authorities have taken to address these challenges. We very much welcome everything that the authorities are doing in this context,” he said.
Plumbly also denounced the recent deadly gun battles in the northern city of Tripoli and the spree of retaliatory kidnappings of Syrians and Turkish nationals in Lebanon and of Lebanese in Syria.
“We strongly hope that all those who have been kidnapped will be released without any further delay,” Plumbly said.
Syrian troops have conducted a number of incursions into Lebanese territory, some of which have been fatal. A number of Lebanese nationals have also been kidnapped along the border by Syrian forces.
At least 15 people were killed in fighting between pro- and anti-Syrian factions in Tripoli in August.