Siniora. Hopes for a peace deal with Israel
Lebanese army. Only military entity
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora made it clear Thursday that he does not expect the multinational UNIFIL force to take part in disarming Hizbullah.
"It's clear that the Lebanese army will carry out this mission," the Lebanese leader said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "The multinational force is not supposed to do that and should not bother itself with it. Hizbullah is a political party represented in the government and it agreed to the seven-point plan presented to the UN by the Lebanese government."
"I Hope the (Lebanese) army will be the only military entity to be recognized by all residents of southern Lebanon," Siniora said, after noting that Hizbullah also agreed to the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south of the country.
'Hizbullah learned its lesson'
The Lebanese PM also told the newspaper he does not expect Hizbullah to drag Lebanon into a war again.
"I don't believe it can happen again," he said. "I don't think Hizbullah is in the same position where it was before the war, and won't be able to repeat what it did. It learned the lesson from what happened."
Turning his attention to Israel, Siniora said he hoped a peace deal between the two countries can be reached.
"I think that Israel learned from the war that violence isn't the way to ensure its wellbeing," he said. "The only way to achieve peace is through negotiations. The belligerent statements made by the Israeli government, even if they're meant to quiet internal criticism, do not assist the negotiation track."
In the interview, Siniora also sought to allay Italian fears over the deployment of Italian forces in Lebanon.
"Lebanon and Italy have much in common: History, culture, and the fact we're both Mediterranean countries," he said. "The Italian soldiers will be among friends and not in a hostile environment."