Secretary-General's press encounter after meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz (unofficial transcript)
Jerusalem, 29 August 2006SG: Thank you very much Mr. Minister. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I will be rather brief - I am a bit tired and I am sure you can understand. We had a very good discussion and as the Minister indicated we discussed the implementation of [Security Council Resolution] 1701. As I had explained in Lebanon and as I explained it here, 1701 is not a smorgasbord, it is not a buffet, it is a fixed menu. And we have to implement every aspect of that Resolution. And that we are expecting both parties to do that.
We also discussed the deployment of the international forces and the need to get the first wave in very quickly so that the Israeli troops can withdraw from the south. And my hope was that with the French deployment moving forward and the Italians moving in Friday that we should be able to double relatively quickly the 2,500 men that we have on the ground and move up to 5,000 so that the Israelis can withdraw – Israeli troops can come back home and the Lebanese and international forces can move into the area.
On the question of the disarmament which I discussed and the issue of an arms-free south which we also discussed with the Lebanese authorities, we are taking very seriously. And I think the measures that are going to be implemented by international troops should give some comfort and assurance that the resolution is being implemented and in fact we see the stabilization force as an essential element of that resolution.
I also raised the question of the blockade of Lebanon which the Lebanese authorities raised with me and which I will also be discussing tomorrow with the Prime Minister. And the need to lift that blockade as soon as possible in order to allow Lebanon to go on with normal commercial activities and also rebuild its economy.
I know the issue you raised of re-armament, but 1701 does put an arms embargo on Lebanon except to the government, and that requires all Member States to honour that Resolution. Member States should not ship arms to Lebanon other than to the government. If they do, they are breaking the Resolution and I think we all need to be vigilant and ensure that that does not happen. But I think that with goodwill and determination on both sides we can turn this cessation of hostilities, which is at very fragile stage. And I also discussed with the Defense Minister why we need to avoid violations of the ceasefire indicating that as of today most of the violations have come from the Israeli side and we really need to solidify this and turn it into a permanent ceasefire and accept a political framework that would underpin a more permanent stable environment and that we should all work together to ensure that this time the fragile peace that we are solidifying in Lebanon is for good and that we are not going to see another explosion in six years or twenty years. Thank you.
Off-the-Cuff on 29 August 2006