Syria has promised to pull all of its military and intelligence forces out of Lebanon before its parliamentary elections, scheduled for late May. The United Nations envoy to Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, said in a statement that Syria's foreign minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, had assured him that "all Syrian troops, military assets and the intelligence apparatus will have been withdrawn fully and completely" by April 30th.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says that the United States expects that Syria will stick to its timetable for withdrawal:
"That's what Security Council Resolution Fifteen Fifty-Nine calls for - the full withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence services. And. . . .Mr. Larsen had assurances from Syria that they would do that, and we will see by their actions whether or not they will follow through on that. It's important that they do follow through on that. . . .so that those elections in May can take place in an environment that is free from outside intimidation or interference."
President George W. Bush says that it is important that Syria withdraw its forces from Lebanon and that Lebanon's elections be held on time:
"I appreciate that fact that Syria has expressed its intent to fully leave that country - that not only means troops, but it means security forces. . . .And, secondly, it's important for this election to take place on time."
The United States, said President Bush, looks forward "to continuing to work with our friends and allies to make sure that Lebanon is truly free."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.