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UN chief urges Israel, Lebanon for ceasefire

india Updated: Feb 09, 2007 11:18 IST

The Security Council and the new Secretary-General have expressed deep concern at the first clashes between Israeli and Lebanese forces following last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists and appealed to all parties to observe a UN-brokered ceasefire.

Neither the council nor Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an immediate assessment of blame for Wednesday night's exchange of fire - but it appeared that an Israeli bulldozer did not cross the Blue Line, the border drawn by the United Nations after Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation.

The border between Lebanon, Israel and Syria remains in dispute, but the Blue Line is referred to in the ceasefire resolution adopted by the Security Council on August 11 at the end of the 34-day Israeli-Hezbollah war.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora on Friday, denounced what he called Israel's violation of the Blue Line near the village of Maroun el-Rass, scene of heavy fighting in the war. The bulldozer drove about 20 meters into Lebanon, Lebanese military officials said.

But Slovakia's UN Ambassador Peter Burian, the current council president, said Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno told members at a closed briefing that 'there was no violation of the Blue Line'.

Liam McDowell, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon known as UNIFIL, said the exchange of fire was 'initiated by the Lebanese army' when the Israeli bulldozer crossed a 'technical fence' to clear mines.

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