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Lebanon President denies existence of Hezbollah weapons factories, again

Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon on 20 February, 2017 [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]
Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon on 20 February, 2017 [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanese President Michel Aoun denied on Friday Israel's allegations of the existence of weapons factories and secret weapons caches belonging to Hezbollah inside Lebanon, calling the allegations "baseless".

According to a statement by the Lebanese presidency, Aoun spoke to the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Pernille Dahler Kardel, at the Baabda Presidential Palace, east of Beirut. Aoun told the UN official that "the diplomatic corps accredited in Lebanon accompanied the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, on a tour in which they confirmed the invalidity of these allegations".

Aoun added that: "The leadership of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has also denied that there are weapons in the areas where the 'Green Without Borders' organisation [an association concerned with forestation in southern Lebanon] is present". The President also stressed that:

Lebanon is committed to maintaining stability along the border [with Israel] and implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1701 [issued in 2006 following the war between Israel and Hezbollah], while Israel continues to violate Lebanese sovereignty on land, sea and air, disregarding the international resolutions issued by the Security Council and the United Nations.

READ: Lebanon denies Israel claim that missiles are in civilian areas

Kardel informed Aoun that she would leave Beirut for New York to report on the implementation of Resolution 1701 to the Security Council, without specifying a date. She also expressed the United Nations' satisfaction with the cooperation between the Lebanese army and international forces, as well as the steps being taken to strengthen the capabilities of the army.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented photographs of what he said were "three secret Hezbollah sites near Beirut International Airport". Netanyahu claimed these sites were "where the GPS components are assembled from Tehran, and conventional missiles are converted into precision guided missiles that can strike deep inside Israel". Beirut has repeatedly denied these allegations.

READ: Aoun says Lebanon gov't row 'not easy', signals differences with Hezbollah

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