Kofi Annan has continued his Middle East shuttle diplomacy – the Secretary General of the United Nations met Jordan’s King Abdullah. He has now moved on to Syria. Annan is in the region trying to calm tensions and his talks seem to have borne fruit. During a press conference with Jordan’s foreign minister, Annan said Israel will pull out of Lebanon within ten days once the majority of UN troops are in place.
“I expect and I did make this clear to the Israeli authorities, that when the International forces have reached 5000 and are deploying to the south with the Lebanese, it is time for them (the Israelis) to withdraw and withdraw completely.” The issue of the two Israeli soldiers, whose kidnap sparked the recent fighting, also seems to have moved forward. It is believed that Israel may now be prepared to discuss the freeing of Lebanese prisoners in return for the pair as long as they are handed over to the Lebanese government.