06/27/2007, 00.00
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UN report says international experts to help stop arms trafficking with Syria

The study, which the UN’s Ban Ki-moon will present to the Security Council, calls for a multi-agency Lebanese border force. Patriarch Sfeir chastises Lebanon’s warring parties for working in the interests of foreign forces and warns against any parallel governments.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – A UN report has called for a major upgrading of Lebanon's lax border security to prevent arms smuggling from Syria, including assigning international experts to a new, multi-agency Lebanese border force. The report by a team of international security experts led by Lasse Christensen of Denmark just back from a three-week assessment mission in Lebanon alleges widespread smuggling in light and heavy weapons as well as a steady flow of men across the border with Syria. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-mon will present the report to the Security Council today.

Press reports indicate that the report will point out that Lebanon’s border with Syria is too porous. The nearly 30 years of Syrian domination which ended in 2005 prevented the creation of border controls. It also lamented the lack cross border cooperation with Syria

It expressed concern about the presence of “several heavily armed Palestinian military strongholds covering both sides” of the border, saying they “constitute pockets of territories where the Lebanese security forces are denied the possibility to exercise their mandate.”

In the meantime in Bkerke, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir said in no uncertain terms that a "local" solution to the political deadlock must be found.

The cardinal insisted that a “solution to Lebanon's dragging standoff is difficult to reach when each of the two dominant groups in the country works for the interests of foreign forces, as opposed to the interests of Lebanon.”

He also warned against the formation of a parallel government after opposition members said they might set up a second cabinet if presidential elections scheduled for September fail.

“The formation of a parallel government would certainly mean the destruction of Lebanon," he said.

Sfeir also deplored divisions among Lebanon’s Christian communities, appealing to them to “stand united for the welfare of our country.”

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