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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN envoy seeking Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon to return there in coming days

3 March 2005 The United Nations envoy seeking the withdrawal of some 14,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon is returning to the region in the next few days, less than a month after his last visit, following an increase in tension sparked by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"I will be sending back Terje [Roed-]Larsen to the region to discuss the issue of withdrawal with the two governments concerned," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters in New York today of his Special Envoy for the implementation of resolution 1559.

The resolution, adopted by the Security Council last September, calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, disbanding all militias and extending Government control over the whole country. Syrian troops have been in the country since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Mr. Annan reiterated his earlier hope that he will be able to report progress when he submits his next report in April.

Asked whether he was concerned that too quick a Syrian withdrawal might create a political vacuum, he replied: "I think this is something that everyone is conscious of and it will have to be managed very carefully. I think in our discussions and in our attempt to see implementation of the resolution [1559] we will bear that in mind."

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