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BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said Wednesday that renewed use of the Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan would help distribute Lebanese industrial products and revive the Lebanese economy in various sectors, a statement from the presidency reported.
The comments came during a meeting with Acting U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel, in which Aoun said the U.N. had a role to play in facilitating the movement of Lebanese produce through the crossing, which was recently recaptured by the Syrian regime.
Opposition forces had seized control of the crossing in the southern Deraa region in 2015, severing a route that constituted a lifeline for trade between Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf.
Kardel’s meeting with Aoun came as she was set to depart to New York to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to present the situation in Lebanon and the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Israeli war.
Her trip also comes ahead of the extension date UNIFIL, set for August 31. UNIFIL forces have been present in Lebanon since 1978.
The forces have been criticized in recent years, primarily by the Trump administration, for allegedly failing to prevent Hezbollah’s presence in the south.
Aoun called for UNIFIL’s term to be renewed without modification to its budget or the scope of its work in order to sustain its role of maintaining stability in the south, despite near daily Israeli incursions on Lebanese land, sea and air sovereignty, the statement said.
Kardel reiterated the U.N.’s support for Lebanon and the international body’s readiness to assist the country at various levels, according to the statement.
Aoun also repeated his call for the U.N. to aid in the demarcation of Lebanon’s southern land and sea borders, of which several points are the subject of disputes between Lebanon and Israel. Particular flashpoints include the demarcation of the southern sea border due to the assumed presence of oil and natural gas reserves, in addition to the southern Shebaa Farms region occupied by Israel.