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UN Official Defends Unifil

A top UN official defended the United Nations-Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) against recent charges by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan that it served as an umbrella for terrorists in south Lebanon According to Brian Urquhart, UN Undersecretary General for Special Political Affairs, UNIFIL has been the target of unfair charges by both sides in the Lebanese conflict. “Of course, it depends which side you talk to,” he said in an Israel Radio interview today.

“On the other side there is a mirror image of that (Dayan’s) argument. In fact, we are stuck in the middle. All forces in the area have to be regarded as realities whether you approve of them or not. UNIFIL is there to try to establish a zone of peace and it is a very difficult job. I don’t agree with the argument, whichever side it comes from, that we are a shelter for hostile acts.”

Urquhart is here to superintend the with drawal of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) from Sinai. The first contingent of 142 Swedish soldiers departed from Ben Gurion Airport this morning. The UN official arrived here from Lebanon and Egypt. He conferred today with Defense Minister Ezer Weizman on the UNEF pull-out and its replacement, for the time being, by unarmed UN truce observers.

There are still some 3000 Swedish soldiers in Sinai, making up the bulk of the 4015-man force and their evacuation will be gradual to allow time for political discussions that will finalize arrangements to replace them permanently. Israel has objected strenuously to the Security Council’s decision last week to replace UNEF with a United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) force.

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