Lebanese Efforts Underway to Convince US against Reducing UNIFIL Funding
Lebanon’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations has intensified its efforts with permanent members of the Security Council and countries participating in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to convince Washington to reconsider a decision to reduce its funding for the peacekeeping force.
Lebanese diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that Washington suggested a 10 percent decrease, or $8.4 million. in its funding.
The sources said that the US had suggested a similar cut last year, but Beirut succeeded in convincing Washington to reconsider its decision.
The annual UNIFIL budget is $487 million with the US contribution accounting to 7.28 percent of the sum, they added.
“Washington might reduce its funding for UNIFIL to force Lebanon to impose state sovereignty over all Lebanese territories,” they remarked.
The sources added that a leading diplomat at the US Embassy in Lebanon had recently visited the Foreign Ministry and met with Lebanon's Director of Political and Consular Affairs Ghadi Khoury to discuss the extension of the UNIFIL mandate.
“Khoury reiterated that Beirut wishes to renew the mandate for one year, as practiced since 2007,” the sources said.
Washington has been pressuring Lebanon to reduce the Hezbollah party’s influence in the country.
Last month, Lebanese President Michel Aoun called upon the Security Council to extend UNIFIL's mandate without cutting its budget or modifying its mission.