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Optimism About Lebanon

Some three thousand troops and naval personnel from France, Italy, Spain, and other countries have arrived in Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL. Germany, Ireland, Russia, and Turkey are among other nations that have promised to bring the total of UNIFIL personnel to nine-thousand.

Provisions for an expanded U-N force in Lebanon were part of U-N Security Council Resolution seventeen-zero-one which called for a cease-fire between Hezbollah terrorists and Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, and for the establishment of a zone in southern Lebanon free of unauthorized weapons. The resolution also offered assistance to the Lebanese government to expand its authority throughout the country.

Assistant Secretary of State David Welch told members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee disarming Hezbollah will not be easy:

"Disarmament of militias is a continuing challenge inside of Lebanon, particularly with respect to Hezbollah. This is a significant challenge internally and politically inside of Lebanon, but we believe it is necessary also for Lebanon's assertion of its sovereignty."

U-N Security Council Resolution seventeen-zero-one also imposed an embargo on unauthorized weapons entering Lebanon. According to news reports, Syria and Iran had provided Hezbollah with arms and financial support used to commit violence against Israel. Mr. Welch says there will be consequences if the embargo is not honored:

"Should it happen, I think we'll bring the matter up before the [U-N Security] Council to present whatever evidence is available so that Syria or whoever is doing it would be held to account."

In August, President George W. Bush announced more than two-hundred-thirty-million dollars in humanitarian, reconstruction, and security assistance to Lebanon -- more than fifty-five-million dollars of which has already been provided. "However" says Assistant Secretary Welch, "while progress has been made, much remains to be done. Our challenge," he says, "is to maintain the momentum towards a lasting peace in Lebanon."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.