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Last Updated: Monday, 8 May 2006, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Siniora wants pressure on Israel
By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Beirut

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora
Siniora is pushing for Israeli withdrawal from the Shebaa farms
Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, is in London for a two-day visit. He is due to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday.

Mr Siniora told the BBC that his mission is to convince world leaders to pressure Israel into withdrawing from the area of Shebaa farms.

He added that he is convinced that such a withdrawal will lead to the disarmament of Hezbollah.

Mr Siniora is a member of the anti-Syrian coalition in Lebanon.

Lebanon claims the disputed Shebaa farms as its territory but according to the UN, the area is part of the Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel since 1967.

An Israeli withdrawal will empower the internal security and the Lebanese economy
Fouad Siniora

The Lebanese prime minister told the BBC he was confident that if Israel withdrew from the area, Hezbollah, the anti-Israeli guerrilla movement, would finally disarm and the Lebanese army would be the sole armed body in the country.

Mr Siniora said international support was crucial on that and other issues.

"We want to empower Lebanon so that we will have an Israeli withdrawal empowering the internal security, empowering the Lebanese economy. This is for all the Lebanese. We want to seek the support of our friends around the world for all Lebanon," Mr Siniora told the BBC.

He also said that Syria had to recognise Lebanon as an independent sovereign country.

Mr Siniora also said that although change was not always as fast as people wished for, a lot had been achieved in Lebanon in the last year.

The militant Lebanese Hezbollah group has used the Israeli presence in Shebaa farms to justify continued armed conflict.

On Monday, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qasim affirmed that the group's disarmament is not open to discussion.

He was quoted by Hezbollah TV, al-Manar, saying that Hezbollah is willing to discuss what would be the role of Hezbollah's weapons in a Lebanese defensive strategy.

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