FM Livni: Your visit comes at a critical moment for the full and complete implementation of 1701.

 Statements by FM Livni and UN Secy-Gen Annan after meeting


FM Livni and Secy-Gen Annan at joint press conference (Reuters)

Statements to the press by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan following their meeting in Jerusalem
August 30, 2006

FM Livni: I would like again to welcome Secretary General Annan to the region, to Israel. As I said before, your visit comes at a critical moment for the full and complete implementation of 1701. It can bring about a change in the region and in Lebanon, and I hope that at the end of this process we can achieve a comprehensive peace with Lebanon.

But there is a need, of course, for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, there is a need to enforce the arms embargo, and there is a need to seek the quick deployment of the Lebanese army plus the international force to the south part of Lebanon; and, of course, the disarmament of any militia in Lebanon, including Hizbullah.

We discussed all of these issues and I believe that the Israeli interest as well as the interests of the Lebanese government and the international community are the same. So, I feel that we share the same goals and the same understanding of the urgent needs to implement this resolution.

UN Secy-Gen Annan: As you have heard from the Minister, we have had a very, very good discussion this morning, and my stay here in Israel has been very fruitful, since I arrived last night. We have had very serious discussions with Minister of Defense, with the Prime Minister, and now, with the Foreign Minister and of course, I also had the chance of meeting the families of the abducted soldiers and Mr. Shalit who was also picked up in the Palestinian territory. [Editorial note: Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on sovereign Israeli territory and is being held in the territory of the Palestinian Authority].  

But let me say that I do understand the importance Israel and the families attach to the release of the abducted soldiers, at the personal individual level having met  the families and having heard  the painful and moving story yesterday, and  on a national level. I did discuss this issue in Lebanon, and I intend to stay engaged on it with the Lebanese partners.

I would also want to say that I did raise the issue of the lifting of the blockade with all my interlocutors, including the foreign minister, and the importance of that to the Lebanese government and to the Lebanese people.

On the issue of disarmament the Security Council is very clear – first, in 1559, then in 1680 and in 1701 – that all militias should be disarmed in Lebanon. This is an objective that we all share. It was reaffirmed by 1701 – and 1701 has been accepted, both by Israel and Lebanon, including Hizbullah – and so initially we have to ensure that southern Lebanon is free of weapons except for those in the hands of the UN forces and the Lebanese army. Then eventually the Lebanese will have to work hard at the national disarmament which has been called for in all of these UN resolutions.

But I also believe that this exercise with the full implementation of 1701 gives us the foundation and the basis to move forward and to settle the differences between Israel and Lebanon once and for all, and to establish a durable peace between the two of them so that we do not go through the kinds of the explosive situations that we have seen in the past and as we saw recently in the last six weeks or so.

Having come from Lebanon, and also held discussions with the Israeli leadership, I am convinced that both countries are determined to implement 1701 fully. They see an opportunity to turn a page and build on a very solid basis and I think that it is important that we do so rapidly, and sustain the momentum and not let things drag. And I am going devote as much to as this as possible

And of course, I am dealing with other crises in other parts of the world. But I promise you that I will stick with it and do whatever we can to make it happen.

Thank you very much.