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Lebanon And Syria

In an address to the United Nations Security Council, Fuad Sinoria, Lebanon's prime minister, called on Syria to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon and resolve a dispute over borders. Mr. Siniora said the scars caused by what he called "heavy-handed interference" by Syria in Lebanon would not be easy to heal.

In a particularly heinous attack, former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed with twenty-two others in a car bombing in Beirut in February 2005. The U-N inquiry into the assassination found probable cause to believe that Syrian security services were involved in the assassination. Mr. Hariri was an opponent of Syria's occupation of Lebanon, which ended in April 2005 after international pressure and massive Lebanese protests following the Hariri assassination.

It is also believed that the Syrian covert intelligence apparatus is still active in Lebanon, in violation of U-N Security Council resolutions. President George W. Bush says he supports the desire of the Lebanese people "to have a government responsive to their needs and a government that is. . . .truly free".

"There's no question in my mind that Lebanon can serve as a great example for what is possible in the broader Middle East; that out of the tough times the country has been through will rise a state that shows that it's possible for people of religious differences to live side-by-side in peace; to show that it's possible for people to put aside past histories to live together in a way that the people want."

In a written statement, the U.S. State Department says, "Unfortunately, Syrian interference in Lebanon has continued throughout the past year via economic pressure, political interference and intimidation, and ongoing security incidents."

The Lebanese people have accomplished much over the past year, but much remains to be done. The United States, the U-N, and others will continue to hold the Syrian regime accountable until it responds completely to concerns about its cooperation with the U-N investigation into Rafiq Hariri's murder, as well as Syria's "interference in Lebanon, insufficient action on the Iraqi border, sponsorship of Palestinian terrorist groups, and harsh crackdowns on civil society."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.