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UN envoy on Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon to give Annan timetable this week

14 March 2005 The United Nations envoy seeking the withdrawal of some 14,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon will present further details of the timetable for a complete pullout to Secretary-General Kofi Annan later this week following talks with the leaders of both countries.

Terje Roed-Larsen, Mr. Annan's Special Envoy for implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, which calls for withdrawing all foreign forces from Lebanon, disbanding all militias and extending Government control over the whole country, met on Saturday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who committed to withdraw all Syrian troops and intelligence forces from Lebanon.

"The meeting was very constructive and I am much encouraged by President Assad's commitment to the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1559," the envoy said in a press statement after meeting the President in Aleppo, Syria.

Mr. Roed-Larsen said the withdrawal would be carried out in two stages. First, all military forces and the intelligence apparatus would be relocated by the end of this month to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon while a significant number of Syrian forces will withdraw fully into Syria. Then, a second stage will lead to a complete and full withdrawal of all Syrian military personnel, assets and the intelligence apparatus.

Yesterday, Mr. Roed-Larsen met in Beirut with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Omar Karami, Speaker Nabi Berry, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, opposition leader Walid Jumblatt and other senior politicians. He also spoke by phone with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to discuss his meetings.

The visit was his second in the new job he assumed in January after serving as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. Since his first trip in early February tensions have risen in Lebanon following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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