Congressional letter urges UNIFIL empowerment

More than 100 congressmen urged the Bush administration to help empower U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon to confront arms smugglers.The bipartisan letter sent Monday to Condoleezza Rice urges the secretary of state to renegotiate the terms of the U.N. Security Council resolution that ended last summer’s Israel-Hezbollah war. Currently, the resolution stipulates that the peacekeepers must confront arms smugglers only if requested to do so by the Lebanese army. No such requests have been made, and Israeli intelligence believes that Iran, operating through Syria, has rearmed Hezbollah.”We write with serious concern over the continuing illegal transfer of arms to the Hezbollah terrorist organization across the Syrian-Lebanese border,” said the letter initiated by Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). “We ask you to work within the Council to give the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) the mandate it needs to stop the illegal movements of arms across the Syrian border.”

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