Lebanon News

Hezbollah says Ban Ki-moon not welcome in Lebanon

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. (AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand)

BEIRUT: The head of Hezbollah’s Shura Council Sheikh Mohammad Yazbek said over the weekend that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who is scheduled to arrive in Lebanon Friday, is not welcome.“The visit of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to Beirut is not welcome, neither is the phony [U.N. Special Envoy Terje Roed] Larsen or the messenger of evil [Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs] Jeffrey Feltman,” Yazbek was quoted by local media as saying.

Yazbeck accused Larsen, who is tasked with overseeing the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, of being biased toward Israel.

UNSCR 1559 was adopted in 2004 and calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the disarmament of Hezbollah. The latter has defended its arms as the only means to fend off Israeli aggression.

Lebanon’s resistance party has said that Ban is biased toward Israel, particularly following the release of Ban’s latest report to the Security Council on the implementation of Resolution 1701. In the report, issued in November, Ban criticized Hezbollah as a threat to Lebanon’s stability, and called on the government to hold a national dialogue and work toward a national defense strategy.

Hezbollah responded by accusing Ban of bias toward the West, warning against Western hegemony over the United Nations which, the resistance said, threatened peace and security.

The party also slams the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon as “an American-Israeli” tool to foment strife in Lebanon.

The court, established to try the assassins of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other figures, indicted four Hezbollah members last year. The party strongly denies any involvement.

During his visit, the U.N. chief is expected to meet with officials and members of the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon. He is also scheduled to give the opening remarks at a U.N. conference in Beirut on reform and democratic transition in the Arab world.

Despite the conflict of interest between the two sides, Hezbollah and U.N. officials in Lebanon have maintained good relations with U.N. Resident Coordinator for Lebanon Robert Watkins meeting with Hezbollah officials on a regular basis.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 09, 2012, on page 1.

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