Talks have been held in Beirut between a United Nations envoy and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, on the increasing violence faced by United Nations forces in southern Lebanon.
Talks have been held in Beirut between a United Nations envoy and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, on the increasing violence faced by United Nations forces in southern Lebanon. At the beginning of the month four members of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon -- UNIFIL -- died when their helicopter was shot down and two others were killed in separate incidents. The United Nations has asked the Lebanese government to restore its authority in the south.
SYNOPSIS: The U.N. Under-Secretary, Brian Urquhart, was accompanied by the commander of the UNIFIL forces, General Emmanuel Erskine, when he met Mr. Arafat on Monday (12 February). Afterwards Mr. Urquhart said their talks had been 'good', but no other details were given. UNIFIL troops have found it increasingly difficult to act as a peace-keeping force in the south without cooperation from armed factions in the area and without government control. Tension has mounted between the U.N. patrols along the border and Palestinian forces as well as right-wing Christian militias.
General Erskine faces growing reluctance from some countries to commit troops to the UNIFIL force if their members face further violence. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation -- whose spokesman, Mahmoud Labadi, talked to reporters after the meeting -- exerts considerable influence in Lebanon as a whole. And one sign of an improvement in southern Lebanon came even??? before the talks between Mr. Urquhart and Mr. Arafat. Some Lebanese troops began to take part with UNIFIL in peacekeeping patrols in the area.