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UN Considers Israeli Requests On Lebanon Tapes - 2001-08-07

An Israeli delegation arrived at the United Nations Tuesday morning to view videotapes connected with the abduction of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon. But the Israelis left the U.N. building without seeing the tapes.

On Monday, the United Nations announced an agreement whereby Israeli officials could view videotapes and bloodstained articles related to the abduction of three Israeli soldiers last October near the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israel says the materials could help in its investigation.

One videotape, taken a day after the incident, shows Hezbollah militants demanding that U.N. peacekeepers give up the two vehicles believed used in the abductions. U.N. officials said Israeli officials could view an edited version of the tape with the faces of Hezbollah members obscured. The United Nations said it does not want to be put in the position of providing intelligence information to Israel.

It seemed that the arrangement was agreeable to Israel but, after meeting with U.N. officials, Israeli ambassador Yehuda Lancry told reporters his government must clarify the rules governing the viewing of the tapes and examination of the physical articles. "The question is whether we can watch these videotapes and see the items a number of times or if it will be a one-time event," Mr. Lancry said. "So we would like to have the possibility to expose these videotapes and the items to other Israeli professionals."

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard says U.N. officials are now considering the Israeli request, however he refused to get into the specifics of the conditions originally proposed for the viewing of the videos and physical items. He indicated the United Nations is trying to accommodate humanitarian concerns without appearing to provide intelligence information.