UN demands Syria pulls out of Lebanon

The UN Security Council has called on Syria to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon.

    Syria is the major political and military force in Lebanon

    France and the United States were the major players behind a policy statement which was

     read at a formal

    meeting in New York on Tuesday.

    The security council, which also called on Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report on any progress twice a year, intended to bolster a 2 September resolution demanding troops be

    withdrawn.

    Both Syria and Lebanon ignored last month's request, saying it was an

    interference in their internal affairs.

    Tuesday's statement

    required the consent of all 15 council members.

    Algeria, the

    only Arab member of the council, hesitated until the last

    minute.

    Lebanese constitution

    Annan's last report said Syria had neither complied with

    the 2 September

     resolution nor given any timetable for doing so.

    Lahud's presidential term has
    been extended by three years

    It

    also said Lebanon had not disarmed "militias", a reference to

    Hizb Allah and Palestinian groups, as called for by the

    resolution.

    Shortly after the announcement, Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq

    al-Shara rejected the security council's call

    .

    "Our position remains as it was -[Resolution] 1559 is illegal

    intervention in the Syrian-Lebanese bilateral relationship."

    Syria's government has maintained political control over

    Lebanon since it intervened in 1976, at the request of the country's Christian Maronite community

    , to

    quell a civil war.

    The issue came to the fore in September, when the UN Security

    Council tried unsuccessfully to keep Lebanon's parliament from

    amending the constitution and extending Syrian-backed President

    Emile Lahud's term for three years.

    SOURCE: AFP


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