UN envoy meets Syrian leader

A UN envoy has met Syria's president as the world body prepares to send a team back to Lebanon to verify that all Syrian intelligence agents have left.

    Terje Roed-Larsen is following up compliance with UN resolutions

    "At the request of Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan, Mr Terje Roed-Larsen met this (Sunday) morning in Damascus with President Bashar al-Assad," said a statement by Nejib Friji, chief of the UN Information Centre in Beirut.

    Roed-Larsen is the envoy assigned by Annan to follow up UN Security Council resolution 1559 that required Damascus to end 29 years of military presence in Lebanon.

    "They discussed all relevant issues and they will continue their dialogue. Mr Terje Roed-Larsen left Damascus after his meeting to brief the Secretary General," said the statement, without giving further details.

    Verification team

    UN officials and diplomats said on Friday that Annan had decided to send a UN verification team back to Lebanon to see whether Syrian intelligence agents were still in the country.

    The move coincided with remarks by US officials and Lebanese opposition figures accusing Syria of having a hit list of anti-Syrian political figures.

    US President George Bush said on Friday he was disturbed by reports of covert Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs.

    The White House said it had information that Damascus had drawn up an assassination list of Lebanese political leaders. Prominent opposition leader Walid Jumblatt has also made a similar charge.

    Syria has said its pull-out from Lebanon fulfilled its side of a UN resolution that also calls for the disarmament of Lebanese militias, a reference to the Iran and Syrian-backed Hizb Allah group.

    A Syrian official source said that the Arab state had completed its pullout from Lebanon.

    A UN verification team reported on 23 May that Syria had withdrawn its soldiers, but said there was no way to determine whether plainclothes agents were still in the country.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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