Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday morning during a press conference following his meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that Russian authorities are investigating claims that weapons Russia sold to Syria ended up in the hands of Hizbullah.
“We have strict regulations which say that no country can transfer weapons that we have sold it to a third party,” he said.
Regarding the arms transfer to Lebanon, Livni said that “Lebanon has an absolute responsibility to implement the arms embargo that was agreed upon in the Security Council. If Syria will not abide by the Security Council’s decision, international sanctions must be implemented against it. Syria must understand that the condition for its inclusion in the international community is not providing support to terror organizations and Hizbullah.”
Livni and Lavrov address Press (Photo: Niv Calderon)
During their meeting, Livni and Lavrov dealt with several issues concerning the Middle East, including the Iranian nuclear program, Russia’s arms sale to Hizbullah, and United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 on south Lebanon.
Livni emphasized the need for the complete implementation of resolution 1701, including the need to release the “hostages” and the application of full Lebanese sovereignty over the entire Lebanese territory.
Lavror expressed hope the resolution would be implemented in its entirety, “including the release of the captives and the deployment of the Lebanese army.”
A disagreement erupted between the two leaders regarding the initiative to hold an international summit seeking solutions to the crisis in the Middle East.
While Livni discussed the need for Israel to meet immediately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas without preconditions, the Russian foreign minister insisted on an international summit to discuss various aspects of the Mideast conflict and advance solutions.
“There is some disagreement between us regarding the Israeli foreign minister’s claim that an international summit would only complicate processes. All sides involved must meet and speak,” Lavrov said.
Livni said that as of now, an international summit is not a solution. “We are not enthused by the Arab League's initiative.
In the past, such summits were launched with a bang but ended in disappointment,” she said.
With that she added, “An immediate meeting with Abbas is necessary so we can hear about the problems in the PA from him. This doesn’t mean there will be peace by tomorrow morning, but we need to examine what is needed in order to discuss the future.”
The foreign minister noted that the urgent matters on the agenda were the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the halting of Qassam rocket attacks on Israeli soil.
Regarding the danger of the nuclear armament of Iran, Lavrov said Russia did not accept Tehran’s violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Foreign Minister Livni said Iran must uphold the decisions of the United Nations Security Council, and sanction were necessary if it failed to cooperate.
In answer to a question on Israeli use of bombs during the war in Lebanon, Livni said: “Israel adhered to international treaties in its use of weapons during the war in Lebanon.”
Lavrov brought up the Syrian and Lebanese demand for a solution to the issue of the Shebaa Farms, but Livni said that even UN Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan did not consider this to be an issue on the agenda.
During the day Friday, Livni is slated to meet with the visiting Italian and German foreign ministers.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz met Friday morning with German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier and thanked him for the effort his country put into the implementation of the Security Council resolution 1701 and in the consolidation of the multinational army in South Lebanon. The defense minister pointed out to Steinmeier that Germany’s role in the implementation of the embargo is “very important.”
Peretz further pointed out that the Security Council has yet to deal with another central issue – releasing the kidnapped soliders Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The defense minister said that the international community has to insist that the captives be immediately returned to their families, and told the German foreign minister that his country has an important potential role in this matter, especially due to its experience in such affairs.
Peretz also said that the nature of the international supervision of the relations between Syria and Lebanon remained open-ended, and the international community must define it in order to avoid an unnecessary clash in the future.
Regarding the IDF’s withdrawal from South Lebanon, Peretz said that it depended on the deployment of the international forces. “Our intention is to withdraw as soon as possible. We would like the arrangement to be completed within two weeks but it depends on the schedule of the multinational army. We have no intention of staying in Lebanon.”