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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK
Lebanon blocks UN border deployment
Map of southern Lebanon
The deployment of United Nations peacekeepers along the Lebanese border with Israel has been blocked by the Lebanese Government because of what it said were Israeli infringements at the frontier.

UN officials in Lebanon confirmed the border violations had taken place, but said that they hoped the incidents could be cleared up in time for Wednesday's deployment.

Southern Lebanon
Lebanese soldiers watch the destruction of an Israeli army post
In a statement, the UN Middle East envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, expressed his "deep disappointment" at the border violations.

Mr Larsen said the "repeated Israeli violations were unnecessary, counterproductive and totally unacceptable".

The UN announced earlier this week that its much-delayed deployment would go ahead after a team of experts had verified that Israel had fully withdrawn from all Lebanese territory.

Israel hurriedly withdrew from southern Lebanon in May after a 22-year occupation.

Continued complaints by Lebanon over border violations have delayed the deployment of peacekeepers in accordance with UN resolutions.

'Israeli roads'

Lebanese officials said on Tuesday that Israel had violated the border at four points between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

They had therefore cancelled a meeting scheduled for Wednesday between Lebanese army officers and UN peacekeepers until further notice.

Israeli-Lebanese border
The border has seen continuing tensions despite the withdrawal
"The Israelis are building roads on Lebanese territory. UN troop deployment stops as long as there are Israeli violations," Hikmat Abu Zaid, spokesman for the Lebanese prime minister said.

The border has been closely monitored since May. UN and Lebanese officials last week completed weeks of meticulous inspection to verify the integrity of the border.

Normal life

It is widely hoped that the end of border violations and the deployment of the UN could speed the return to normal life for the residents of the Lebanese border area.

The Lebanese government says it is ready to deploy a combined force of 1,000 army troops and policemen in the south.

About 5,000 UN peacekeepers from 11 countries are stationed in southern Lebanon north of the border ready to guard the border.

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See also:

27 Jun 00 | Middle East
New UN troops arrive in Lebanon
15 Jun 00 | Middle East
Israeli apology for border shooting
26 Jun 00 | Middle East
Hezbollah 'abducted 20 civilians'
19 Jun 00 | Middle East
Lebanon demands more withdrawals
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