The UN Security Council Monday unanimously adopted a resolution to extend for another year the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon.
'The Security Council decides to extend the present mandate of UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until Aug 31, 2011,' the resolution said.
The 15-nation Security Council adopted the resolution at the request of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who wrote to the president of the Council for the extension of UNFIL's mandate for one year, Xinhua reported.
In that letter, the secretary general also expressed his deep concern at the exchange of fire that took place in the vicinity of El Adeisse earlier this month, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky told a press conference here earlier Monday.
'That exchange of fire, he wrote, shows how quickly the relatively stable and secure environment in southern Lebanon that UNIFIL has helped to establish, in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces, can change.'
Ban said that the presence of the UNIFIL remains critical following the Aug 3 incident, during which Lebanese and Israeli forces exchanged fire over the border known as the Blue Line. The exchange of fire killed two Lebanese soldiers, one Israeli commander and one Lebanese journalist.
In his report to the Security Council about the Aug 3 incident, Ban said that Lebanese and Israeli forces fired at each other for three hours with heavy machine guns and rockets.
'The Security Council strongly calls upon all parties concerned to respect the cessation of hostilities, to prevent any violation of the Blue Line and to respect it in its entirety and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL,' said the resolution.
The resolution 'deplores strongly the recent incidents involving UNIFIL peacekeepers, emphasises the importance of not impairing the ability of UNIFIL to fulfil its mandate under Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and calls on all parties to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other UN personnel and to ensure that the freedom of movement of UNIFIL is fully respected, in conformity with its mandate and its rules and engagement.'
'The Security Council emphasises the importance of full compliance with the prohibition on sales and supply of arms and related material established by resolution 1701,' the resolution said.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought an end to the war between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon in 2006, prohibits storing weapons in the security zone between the Litani River and the Blue Line, which is the Lebanese- Israeli border. The area is under the observation of UNIFIL.
'The Security Council urges the government of Israel to expedite the withdrawal of its army from northern Ghajar without further delay in coordination with UNIFIL, which has actively engaged Israel and Lebanon to facilitate such a withdrawal,' said the resolution.