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U.N. Security Council Wants Militias in Lebanon Disarmed

24 January 2006

State's Bolton says council's statement outlines Syria's failures

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The U.N. Security Council issued a formal presidential statement putting pressure on Syria and Lebanon to comply with the council's 16-month-old resolution designed to restore Lebanese independence.

The statement, which reflects the unanimous agreement of the 15 council members, was issued January 23.  It said that significant progress has been made toward implementation of Resolution 1559 since it was issued September 2, 2004, as a result of the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon and Lebanon holding free and credible parliamentary elections in May 2005 and June 2005.

But the council noted with regret that other provisions of Resolution 1559 have yet to be implemented, "particularly the disbanding and disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and the extension of government control over all Lebanese territory and free and fair presidential elections conducted according to the Lebanese constitutional rules without foreign interference and influence," the statement said.

"The council calls on the Lebanese Government to sustain its efforts to achieve progress on all these issues in accordance with Resolution 1559 and to pursue a broad national dialogue and the council calls on all other parties concerned, in particular the Government of Syria, to cooperate to this end," the council said in the statement read by Council President Ambassador Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton characterized the council's statement as "a clear delineation of Syria's failure to comply with many significant aspects" of the resolution as well as a "clear, unanimous signal from the Security Council on what Syria still has to do."

Bolton specifically mentioned Syria's "failure to disarm the Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, the failure to allow free and fair presidential elections, the continued terrorist attacks."

"The Syrians need to take it very seriously," the ambassador said of the presidential statement.

Resolution 1559 set out the Security Council's support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon.  It also set out a number of specific requirements that must be met to end foreign influence in that country including the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, the disbanding of all militias and extension of government control throughout the country.

Bolton also listed other actions Syria must undertake to establish normal relations with Lebanon, including the exchange of ambassadors and demarcation of the border.

The United States is "paying particular attention" to presidential elections, he said.

The Security Council's presidential statement "makes it very clear that the election of the next president should be pursuant to constitutional procedures that are not unduly influenced by foreign pressure.  It ought to be a Lebanese decision about a Lebanese president," Bolton said.

The statement did not set a deadline for either Syrian or Lebanese compliance.  But Bolton said that he is "waiting for the sound of Syrian compliance."

The text of the Security Council president’s statement is available on the U.N. Web site.

For more information on U.S. policy in the region, see Middle East and North Africa.

(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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