Arriving in Lebanon, Ban Ki-moon says dialogue is key to national unity

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Emile Lahoud, President of Lebanon, at the Conference Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (UN/Evan Schneider)

Continuing a diplomatic tour of the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Beirut today, where he said dialogue and compromise are key to Lebanon’s national unity. Mr. Ban, who has so far visited Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, said the trip has been instructive. “I have listened attentively and I have learned a great deal about the region and the challenges it is facing. I realize these challenges are particularly serious in Lebanon, where I trust a return to dialogue and reconciliation will prevail,” he said.

“We have seen how easily political tensions can spill over into violence. All sides would lose from such an escalation. I believe that dialogue and compromise are the only ways to stability and national unity,” Mr. Ban told the press on arrival in Beirut. The Secretary-General voiced his commitment to addressing the situation in Lebanon, “especially the successful implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701” which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbollah last year.

While in Lebanon, Mr. Ban will spend a day with peacekeepers from the UN Interim Force (UNIFIL), which was considerably strengthened by resolution 1701. Those blue helmets, he said, “have played a crucial role in enabling the cessation of hostilities to take hold as well as providing humanitarian assistance to the people of south Lebanon.”

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