***Image2***The head of a three-member United Nations team dispatched to the Middle East in response to the unfolding crisis there arrived today in Beirut as an “act of solidarity” with the Lebanese people bearing a call from Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the protection of civilians, support for Lebanon’s Government and the release of all those held captive.
“I have come to Lebanon as the head of this United Nations mission as an act of solidarity with the people of this country and the region, who have suffered untold misery as a result of this escalating conflict,” Vijay Nambiar told reporters following a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.
As efforts to defuse the crisis continue, he stressed three major points: “My first call is for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, which must be respected by all parties,” he said.
“Enough innocent people have been killed. No more innocent life must be lost.”
Secondly, he emphasized that the UN supports the Lebanese Government and Prime Minister. “We support the call for a ceasefire and their aim of exercising full authority over the entire country.”
Mr. Nambiar’s third point centred on “the release of the captives as part of a solution to this conflict.”
The head of the three-member delegation, which includes also Alvaro de Soto and Terje Roed-Larsen, concluded his opening statement with a direct pledge to Mr. Siniora: “Mr. Prime Minister, we are with you and the people of this country and region at a time of grave crisis,” Mr. Nambiar declared. “We plan to meet further with you.”
After that meeting, the team met with the Speaker of the Parliament, Nabih Berri. Mr. Nambiar told reporters after that the meeting had been “extremely productive” and that team members looked forward to working with Mr. Berri.
“We hope he will play an important role in resolving the escalating conflict and in defusing the crisis,” Mr. Nambiar said.