UN will help resolve border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, SG says

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is on a visit to Beirut, called for the continuation of negotiations between Lebanon and Israel on the demarcation of the maritime border.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berry, he indicated that the UN would help make progress towards resolving the border dispute, TASS news agency reported.

“We will spare no effort to achieve an early conclusion of the negotiations, as this will allow Lebanon to use its offshore oil and gas reserves for economic development,” Guterres said.

The UN Secretary General said that he discussed with Berry the issue of continuing violations of the Lebanese airspace by the Israeli Air Force and the need for strict observance of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which established a ceasefire on the Lebanese-Israeli border in 2006.

“We stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation between the Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers stationed in the south of the country,” he said. “In addition, the international community should increase support for the Lebanese armed forces.”

Earlier on Monday, Guterres visited the memorial complex in the seaport of Beirut, where he expressed solidarity with the families of those killed in the August 4, 2020 explosion. Lebanon needs a proper investigation into this emergency, he said. “My visit is aimed at mobilizing international support for victims of the emergency in the port of Beirut,” he said.

In his remarks in the Lebanese capital to journalists, the Secretary-General spoke about his visit to the Harbor, saying it was a very emotional moment. “The suffering of the people, first of all, those that perished, their families, the wounded, the dramatic impact in the lives of so many people is something that of course generates very deep solidarity”.

On the other hand, he noted that he had been receiving messages from many victims demanding “the need for truth to be established, for the need for an independent investigation, that is able to produce that truth.”

On August 4, 2020, an explosion occurred in the seaport of the Lebanese capital, the capacity of which was 1,500 tons of TNT. The blast wave destroyed and damaged thousands of houses within the city and beyond, 219 people died, 6.5 thousand were injured, more than 300 thousand citizens were left homeless.

The extent of the devastation has drawn comparisons within Lebanon, to the horrors endured by the residents of Hiroshima in 1945, after one of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War Two, raised the Japanese city to the ground, killing tens of thousands. Locals refer to the infamous day on August 4, 2020, as “Beirut-shima”.

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