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10/13/04 - U-N ON SYRIA AND LEBANON - 2004-10-07

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, co-sponsored by the U.S. and France, calls on Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon and for all militias in the country, especially the terrorist group Hezbollah, to be disbanded. But U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan says the requirements on the various parties set out in the September 2nd resolution have not been met. Among other things, Mr. Annan says in a thirty-day report required under the resolution, Syria has not withdrawn its forces from Lebanon and Lebanon has failed to disband and disarm all militias. Mr. Annan says that about fourteen-thousand Syrian troops remain in Lebanon. He says, "The Syrian military and intelligence apparatus [has] not been withdrawn. . .United Nations staff on the ground [has] not discerned any change in the status of Hezbollah. . .[and] the government of Lebanon [has] not extended its control over all its territory."

Secretary of State Colin Powell has also made clear to Syrian officials the deep concern of the U.S. over Syria's intervention in the Lebanese political process. Mr. Powell said that, in accordance with U-N Resolution 1559, Syria must end its interference in Lebanese internal affairs, immediately withdraw all its forces from Lebanon, and allow the Lebanese armed forces and government to establish their authority throughout Lebanon.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says that by interfering recently in Lebanon’s selection of a president, Syria showed disrespect for the Lebanese people:

"Syria made it very clear to the people of Lebanon that they [Syria] don’t care about any established constitution, and they don’t care that the people of Lebanon are allowed to express their views and vote for whomever they wish. Our view is very clear on this, that Lebanon and Lebanese should be able to figure out their own future free of all and any outside interference."

It is long past time for Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon and for the Lebanese people to reassert control over their own territory, their own government, and their own future.