Lebanon: Wrong Time to Change
UNIFIL Mandate, Warns Russia

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) – This is an utterly wrong time to make whatever changes in the mandate of the UNIFIL, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s Foreign Ministry official spokesman, said in response to media reports about a tentative personnel reduction.

"Regional developments make whatever plans to change the Force mandate untimely to the extreme. That is our conviction. At any rate, the concept of UNIFIL future must take into account, first of all, the stance of the Lebanese government as host party," stressed the diplomat.

The Security Council is to proceed from the UN Secretary General’s report for a resolution to prolong the Force mandate for another six months, he pointed out in a statement.

"UNIFIL was stationed in Lebanon in 1978 on the basis of UN Security Council resolution No. 425. The Force has proved its efficiency since then. UNIFIL is an essential stabilizing factor in the involved situation that persists in the Middle East. That is what Russia proceeds from," Mr. Yakovenko emphasized.

As Moscow sees it, negotiations are to resume with Palestine, alongside bilateral Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese. That is the way to settle regional problems. The United Nations has offered an international legal basis for those efforts with Security Council resolutions Nos. 242, 338, 425, 1397 and 1515.

Russia is one of the four international mediators of Mideastern settlement, and it is firmly determined to promote all-round settlement in the region, said the diplomat.