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H.E. General Michel Sleiman, President

23 September 2008

Statement Summary

MICHEL SLEIMAN, President of Lebanon, said that, through its follow-up on the situation in Lebanon, the United Nations had contributed to laying the foundations, guidelines and building principles for addressing the crises and challenges that had confronted his country’s stability and prosperity for decades.  Expressing his support for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), he pledged support for providing safety and security to those troops in the face of terrorist attacks.

Noting that Lebanon was a country that believed in the value of humanity and civilization, he said that, despite crises, aggression and wars that had affected it, the country had maintained a democratic system through periodic elections.  As a founding Member of the United Nations, Lebanon had participated in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Since 1948, however, Lebanon had received hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and had been subject to two Israeli invasions and a series of attacks that wreaked havoc in terms of lives lost, and property and infrastructure destroyed.  The scale of catastrophes endured by Lebanon had prompted the Assembly to request Israel to assume responsibility and to compensate Lebanon -- compensation that Lebanon would continue to seek.  He said Lebanon was committed to Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 1701 (2006), which called for the unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.  He also noted that successful efforts had been made, with the help of the United Nations, to liberate Lebanese prisoners and detainees from Israeli prisons and detention centres.

Despite the aforementioned progress with Israel, he said Lebanon still faced a host of urgent risks and challenges, including the incomplete implementation of resolution 1701 by Israel; recovery or liberation of occupied territory in Shebaá Farms, the hills of Kfarshuba, and the northern part of the village of Al-Ghajar; an inability to obtain all the maps of landmines and cluster bomb sites planted by Israel; confronting terrorism; and developing a national strategy to protect and defend Lebanon, pursuant to the provisions of the Doha Agreement.

In that regard, Lebanon was committed to achieving peace in the Middle East and to the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at the 2002 Beirut Summit.  He emphasized the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent State, with Jerusalem as their capital, and called on the international community to provide the necessary financial resources to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  Lebanon, however, absolutely rejected any resettlement of Palestinian refugees on its territory.

On Africa, he expressed Lebanon’s affinity with French-speaking African countries, and pledged support for the document issued at the High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs.  He noted that financing should grow for programmes that combat poverty, disease and illiteracy, as a means to preserve human dignity and prevent further armed conflicts.

[Source: GA/10749]