Lebanon's Hizbollah dismisses UN demand to disarm
BEIRUT, Apr 19 (Reuters) Lebanon's Hizbollah today dismissed a new United Nations report asking Lebanon to disarm the guerrilla group and set its borders with Syria as pandering to Israeli demands.
The report, obtained by Reuters yesterday and prepared by UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, was in response to Security Council resolution 1559, which demands foreign troops leave Lebanon and all militias in the country disband.
''Terje Roed-Larsen ... tries to meet the demands of the Israeli agenda through the Lebanese gate,'' Ali Ammar, one of pro-Syrian Hizbollah's 14 parliament members, told LBC Television.
Hizbollah and Israel have clashed sporadically in the Israeli-occupied border territory of Shebaa Farms, which Israel considers Syrian land. Hizbollah considers it Lebanese. The Jewish state believes Hizbollah is a terrorist organisation and wants it disarmed.
In yesterday's report UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Lebanon must set its borders with Syria and disband Hizbollah before it could be master of its own nation.
In turn, he said, Syria should take up Lebanon's offer of establishing diplomatic relations as well as demarcating the entire (250-km) boundary between the two countries.
Syria said in April it was still premature to establish diplomatic ties with Beirut. It has also refused to demarcate the border.
''From our point of view, resolution 1559 has been implemented and there is nothing left of it. If it is about elections, the elections took place and produced constitutional institutions,'' Ammar said.
''If it is about the Syrian forces, they have left Lebanon.
The remaining files, well all the Lebanese are agreed that they are domestic Lebanese files.'' Damascus, which entered Lebanon in 1976 to quell the war, pulled its troops out a year ago after the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Many Lebanese blamed the murder on Syria, but Damascus has denied any role.
Since Roed-Larsen's last report six months ago, Lebanese political leaders have initiated national talks to resolve long-simmering disputes including what to do about Hizbollah's arms, and the latest report praised the talks as ''historic''.
But while top Lebanese politicians have already asked Syria to set up diplomatic ties and agreed that the Shebaa Farms border area is Lebanese, the dialogue, due to resume on April 28, has yet to make progress on Hizbollah.
The issue of Hizbollah's arms is linked to the border controversy, with the group vowing to liberate the Shebaa Farms, which the United Nations considers Israeli-occupied Syrian land.
The group, whose attacks were vital to end Israel's occupation of south Lebanon in 2000, says it is willing to discuss its weapons domestically but will not disarm under international pressure.
REUTERS SI BST1740