Lebanon News

Sleiman stresses peacekeeping importance

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, left, meets with Michel Sleiman, President of Lebanon during the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 22, 2011. (AP Photo

BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said Thursday peacekeeping missions throughout the world are one of the key tools of preventive diplomacy.

“Although it comes after the eruption of conflicts, it prevents the spread of the conflict,” said Sleiman.

Speaking at the opening of the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, the president also called on the international community to pressure Israel to respect U.N. resolutions and fully withdraw from Lebanese territories.

Sleiman said that previous failures by the U.N. to pressure Israel to implement international resolutions resulted in the deterioration of the security situation between Lebanon and Israel.

“The conflict between Lebanon and Israel wouldn’t have escalated following the U.N. Security Council resolution 425 in 1978 … and the resistance wouldn’t have fought against the Israeli occupation, if the U.N. had forced Israel to comply with its resolutions,” said Sleiman.

Days after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978, the U.N. Security Council called on Israel to fully withdraw from Lebanon, and established the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon under Resolution 425.

Almost 28 years later, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1701 to end the devastating month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

“Avoiding conflicts requires finding practical means to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Sleiman noted.

The president, who chaired the Security Council meeting on preventive diplomacy Thursday, will chair another meeting later Friday, during which the Palestinian bid for full U.N. membership will be put to a vote.

According to Sleiman, combating terrorism is an important means to solve the roots of conflicts.

Sleiman also said Lebanon is fully committed to fighting terrorism “in all its forms.”

“Dialogue and openness to others is the most important weapon against fundamentalism and hatred,” said Sleiman, adding that all countries should emphasize the culture of peace.

Sleiman stressed that culture of peace cannot be separated from the culture of justice.

“There is no real and permanent peace without justice,” he said.

At the end of his eight-minute speech to the Security Council, Sleiman called on world leaders to unite their efforts to strengthen the values of equality and justice throughout the world.

Earlier Thursday, Sleiman held a series of meetings with heads of state in New York.

A day after he spoke to the U.N. General Assembly, Sleiman held a meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

According to a statement from the president’s office at the U.N., Sleiman discussed ongoing developments in the Middle East with Erdogan and bilateral ties between the two countries.

“Sleiman and Erdogan also discussed Turkey’s role through its peacekeeping forces in south Lebanon,” said the statement in reference to the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon.

Sleiman held discussions Wednesday afternoon with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias at the U.N.

“Sleiman and Christofias discussed the issue of the maritime economic zone between Lebanon and Cyprus,” said the statement.

Both presidents emphasize the need to reach an agreement on the shared maritime border with Israel, added the statement from the president’s office.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday, Sleiman told world leaders that Lebanon would defend its rights to its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, against designs by the Jewish state.

“We strongly uphold our full sovereignty and economic rights over our territorial waters and exclusive economic zone as well as the freedom of the exploitation of our natural resources, be they on land or in the deep sea, independently from any designs or threats,” Sleiman said.

Also Thursday morning, Sleiman visited the Qatari delegation’s office in New York and held a meeting with Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa.

“Discussions ranged from bilateral ties to the recent developments in the Arab world,” said the statement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 23, 2011, on page 2.




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