Syria pledges full pullout by elections

Syria will withdraw all its forces from Lebanon before Lebanese elections due in May, Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara has pledged in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

    Syria has been under pressure to withdraw from Lebanon

    The letter on Tuesday said longtime cooperation between Syria and Lebanon had enabled Syria to already decrease its troop levels to 10,000 from 40,000, "coupled with the full withdrawal of these troops before the forthcoming elections in Lebanon".

    Syria's ambassador to UN, Faysal Miqdad, said a joint Syrian-Lebanese coordinating committee would meet before Saturday to set a timetable for the withdrawal.

    International probe

    Syria submitted the letter as the UN Security Council met in closed session to discuss a resolution, drafted by the United States and France, that would authorise an independent international investigation into the 14 February killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

    An outside investigation was recommended by a UN fact-finding mission, which said a Lebanese inquiry "suffers from serious flaws and has neither the capacity nor the commitment to reach a satisfactory and credible conclusion".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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