For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2595
Release Date: 19 June 2000
 Secretary-General Receives Confirmation from UNIFIL
Of Full Withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon

 NEW YORK, 16 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on receiving confirmation by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon:

 I am delighted to tell you that the United Nations Force in Lebanon has today reported to me that Israel has withdrawn from the country, in full compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978).  I have just conveyed this information to the Security Council. 

 The people of Lebanon have waited more than 22 years for this moment. We must all admire the fortitude with which they have borne this long ordeal.

 This is a happy day for Lebanon, but also for Israel. It is a day of hope for the Middle East as a whole.  And it is a day of pride for the United Nations. It shows that United Nations resolutions, when fully implemented by all parties working together, can be the building blocks of peace.

 Lebanon is now closer to peace than it has been in decades.  The main task of UNIFIL will be to help the Lebanese Government and armed forces assume their responsibilities along the border and throughout the area from which Israel has withdrawn.  I trust the international community will also be quick to assist Lebanon with the task of reconstructing the economy in the south and rebuilding its links with the rest of the country.  This will help move the whole country closer to peace and stability. 

 I also hope that the implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978) will be seen by all the peoples in the region – especially Syrians, Palestinians and Israelis, as well as Lebanese – as an encouragement to move ahead faster in negotiating peace treaties based on earlier Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).  Those resolutions, enshrining the formula of “land for peace”, form the bedrock on which the 1991 Madrid formula for achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East was built. 

 I shall myself be leaving, immediately after this press conference, for the Middle East to meet the leaders there and to see what the United Nations can do to consolidate and build on today’s achievement. 

 Finally, let me thank the leaders of Lebanon, Israel and Syria – President Lahoud, Prime Minister Barak, and of course the late President Hafez Al-Assad – for the cooperation they extended to the United Nations over the last few weeks.  I would also like to thank the Governments of Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia for their support, as well as the members of the Security Council and – last but not least – my own Special Envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, for all they have done to make this day possible.

 This is not the end of the long road towards peace in the region, but I hope it will be seen as the beginning of the end.

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