At the memorial to Rafique al-Hariri he was the visiting statesman, but in Beirut’s western suburbs he was jeered by Hizbollah supporters, who accused him of being pro American and Israeli. When Annan spoke, it was to say what he wanted now: “I’m urging my Israeli interlocutors to lift immediately the blockade on Lebanon. I am working with them and other international partners to see that this is done. I also renew my call for the abducted soldiers to be freed and as a first step to be transferred to the auspices of the ICRC”. Annan stresses the truce has set the stage for a “long-term peace”.
The first of Italy’s contribution to that truce has left to begin its peacekeeping mission. Two troop carriers with one thousand men and Chinook helicopters on board have quit Brindisi, part of convoy of five ships including an aircraft carrier and corvette that is en route to Lebanon. Italy will take over leadership of UNIFIL from the French in February.