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15 February 2005

U.N. Security Council Condemns Murder of Hariri

Other countries need to stop interfering in Lebanon, U.S. says

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The U.N. Security Council February 15 condemned the bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and said it is concerned by the potential for further destabilization of the country as a result of the terrorist incident.

"The Security Council is gravely concerned by the murder of the former prime minister of Lebanon and its possible impact on ongoing efforts by the people of Lebanon to solidify Lebanon's democracy, including during the upcoming parliamentary elections," the council said in a statement read at a formal public meeting by its president, Joel Adechi of Benin.

Such a terrorist act, the council said, "should not jeopardize the holding of these elections in transparent, free, and democratic conditions."

The council also expressed "hope that the Lebanese people will be able to emerge from this terrible event united, and to use peaceful means in support of their longstanding national aspiration to full sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity."

The Security Council called on Lebanon to bring the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of the bombing to justice and asked U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to follow the situation closely and report back on an urgent basis.

U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said that the council's message was that "other countries should get out of Lebanon's business and observe the territorial integrity and sovereignty and cease interference in Lebanon's internal affairs."

"The Security Council has a long history of engagement on this issue and the message has been very consistent -- that other countries need to stop interfering in Lebanon," said Patterson, who is the acting U.S. representative to the United Nations.

The terrorist attack on Hariri "is only the most recent, and frankly, the most horrific demonstration of the effects of that foreign interference," the ambassador told journalists outside the Security Council's chambers.

"The United States government is calling on Syria to comply immediately with the provisions of resolution 1559.  And it is totally consistent with the statement the Security Council has just passed," Patterson added.

Resolution 1559, which was adopted in September 2004, calls for the withdrawal of all remaining foreign forces from Lebanon, disbanding of all militias, and extending the government of Lebanon's control over the entire country.   In a report to the Security Council in October 2004, the secretary-general said there were about 14,000 Syrian troops stationed inside Lebanon near the border.

Patterson said that Syria "has got to get out of Lebanon.  Syria has got to comply with the provisions of resolution 1559, withdraw their troops from Lebanon, and cease their interference in Lebanon's internal affairs."

"I think that message has been very specific and it's time for Syria to listen to that now," the U.S. ambassador said.

Annan said that with the killing of Hariri "a great personality and a great political leader has been removed from the scene" in Lebanon.

Arriving at his office February 15, Annan told journalists that U.N. special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen had been in Damascus and Beirut in the beginning of February, meeting with senior officials to see about the implementation of resolution 1559.

Annan said Roed-Larsen told Syrian officials that "we needed to see more progress (on the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon) and hope that there will be actual action, clear signs of withdrawal by the time that I submit my next report to the Security Council" in April.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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