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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SYRIA SHOULD NOT BE PRESSURED, MOSCOW SAYS

RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia opposes any attempts to pressure Syria on specific deadlines and mechanisms of withdrawing its troops from Lebanon, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov noted.

We oppose escalated demands with regard to Damascus. Nor should Syria be pressured in a way that is an affront to its dignity, all the more so as numerous accusations concerning Syria remain unconfirmed, Mr. Saltanov stressed.

We must prevent another hot spot from appearing in this region, which, unfortunately, suffers from more conflicts than any other part of the world, Mr. Saltanov noted. We must solve all problems concerning the fulfillment of the UN Security Council's resolution 1559 and other Mideastern-policy aspects through dialogue, Mr. Saltanov went on to say.

When asked by RIA Novosti to comment on various US attempts to exert pressure on Damascus (including demands that Syria completely withdraw its forces from Lebanon by May 2005), Mr. Saltanov stressed that resolution 1559 did not stipulate any clear-cut troop-withdrawal deadlines and mechanism.

We do not think that this withdrawal should be delayed. However, we proceed from the premise that Syrian troops should be withdrawn in such a way, so as not to destabilize the rather fragile ethnic-confessional Lebanese situation. Lebanon has managed to recover somewhat from the consequences of a destructive and fratricidal civil war not so long ago. The latest events show that Lebanese society has become polarized as a result of debates concerning Syrian presence, the high-ranking Russian diplomat noted.

In Mr. Saltanov's words, all sides should display a responsible approach, refraining from actions that could spell deleterious consequences for Lebanese political stability.



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