The head of the United Nations in the Middle East, Lieutenant-General Ensio Siilasvou, said on Wednesday (29 March) that UN forces in southern Lebanon did not intend to adopt a fighting role.
SCU: Lieutenant-General Ensio Siilasvcu, Chief Coordinator of U.N. Peacekeeping Missions in the Middle East, interviewed.
INTERVIEWER: "General Siilasvou, there are reports this morning that Israel will take at least a few more weeks to withdraw. What is the UN position on that, seeing that there is a link between UN deployment in south Lebanon and Israeli withdrawal?"
SIILASVOU: "In my latest negotiations with the Israeli authorities, they have pointed out that the establishment of the United Nations force in southern Lebanon seems to be relatively slow, and the do not wish to leave a gap between their forces and the Litani river before the UN forces is strong enough there. I have urged the Israeli authorities, however, to start at least a partial withdrawal in areas where the UN force is stronger. (Israeli Defence) Minister ??? Weizmen however thought that withdrawal would not start for two or three weeks."
INTERVIEWER: "There is speculation that the UN might have a fighting role for the first time since Congo. Will the force be equipped for this role, and what precisely will be the orders about participating in battle?"
SIILASVOU: "I would like to make this crystal clear, that we have no fighting role here. We are not waging war against anybody in the area. As in the peacekeeping we shall see here in the Middle East we try to achieve our aims by negotiations and persuasion. We need the co-operation of all the parties concerned, and I think we have it. There will be no fighting."
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Background: The head of the United Nations in the Middle East, Lieutenant-General Ensio Siilasvou, said on Wednesday (29 March) that UN forces in southern Lebanon did not intend to adopt a fighting role. Speaking in Jerusalem, General Siilasvou, the Un Chief Coordinator of Peacekeeping Missions in the Middle East, said the withdrawal of Israeli troops were expected to take another two or three weeks.