The United States and France have been pressuring Syria for a complete withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon, in line with resolution 1559. They have said that talk of redeployment is not enough.

The 1989 Taif Accord ending Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war called for redeploying Syrian troops to eastern Lebanon, followed by agreement on a timetable for a full withdrawal.

 

Syria still has 14,000 troops in Lebanon.

"Resolution 1559 does not have a Lebanese consensus. The overwhelming majority reject resolution 1559, despite respecting this international law. But there is complete consensus about the Taif agreement in Lebanon," Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara said in Cairo.

Saving face

"The [UN] secretary-general's envoy Terje Roed-Larsen does not find a big difference between implementing the Taif agreement or 1559. So, implementing the Taif agreement is indirectly implementing resolution 1559," he said, repeating Syria's commitment to implementing the Taif Accord.

Syria has withdrawn its troops to
the border with Lebanon

Al-Shara was speaking after talks with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, who said last week that Syria could not resist international pressure on its role in Lebanon.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait said talks between Shara and Mubarak covered implementing the Taif Accord and the "connection or link between implementing resolution 1559 and its relation to the Taif agreement".

Analysts said Syria, by seeking to link the Taif Accord and resolution 1559, could be looking for a way to implement the UN resolution without losing face, and so ease international pressure that has mounted since the 14 February assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

Tension


Syria previously said resolution 1559 was contributing to tension in the region.

Lebanon's opposition has blamed Syria for al-Hariri's killing, which has inflamed the row over the presence of Syrian troops. 

 

In addition to calls for pulling out its troops, the United States and France have called for Syria to withdraw its intelligence services.

 

Egypt's presidential spokesman said Mubarak also held telephone talks with French President Jacques Chirac prior to his talks with al-Shara and discussed the implementation of resolution 1559.