ArDO: Yes we want Lebanon to be the Switzerland of the East and Beirut the Paris of the East


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 US pushes for resolution on Syrian acts in Lebanon

UNITED NATIONS - The United States wants a new U.N. Security Council resolution on what it calls continued Syrian interference in Lebanon and Iran's backing of guerrillas there, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said on Wednesday.

Bolton said the council should react to a recent report from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which urged a delineation of borders between the two countries, disarming the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hizbollah militia in the south, and establishing formal diplomatic ties.

The report, prepared by U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, is a response to Security Council resolution 1559 of September 2004 that called for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and for Beirut to disarm militia so it could control the entire country.

"We think a resolution would be appropriate at this point," Bolton told reporters. "I think highlighting the areas of deficiency in Syria's performance ... would be important to show the Council's continuing resolve."

But China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, this month's council president, was cautious, saying, "The region is already complicated, we don't want to make it more complicated. We are not so enthusiastic about more resolutions."

And Syria, in a letter, said Annan's report exceeded the mandate of the September 2004 resolution. Setting borders and establishing diplomatic relations fell "within the domestic jurisdiction in both countries,"

"Pushing the Security Council by some parties to adopt new resolutions or statements will not lead to calm down the situation in Lebanon or the region, but to the contrary it will escalate the situation of instability and tension," it said.

"Syria would like to reaffirm once again that all its troops, military assets and security apparatus withdrew from Lebanon on April 26, 2005," said the letter to Annan signed by Milad Atieh, Syria's deputy U.N. ambassador.


Bolton also said the resolution could include a call for Syrian cooperation with the U.N. investigation into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on February 14, 2005 that has implicated senior Syrian and Lebanese security officials.

Hariri's assassination changed the political landscape of Lebanon and led to Syria's withdrawal of troops after 29 years. Lebanon also held parliamentary elections that resulted in a majority for anti-Syrian legislators.

Annan's report briefly and for the first time touched on Iranian involvement. He said that Hizbollah had "close ties with frequent contacts and regular communication" with Iran as well as Syria.

Bolton said this reference was important. "We see the effect of the financing by the Iranian government of terrorist organizations and their efforts to disrupt what we think should be progress toward a sovereign and democratic Lebanon."

Hizbollah's armed presence is linked directly to the border controversy, with the militia maintaining it provides the sole

resistance against a strip of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, known as the Shebaa farms.

The Security Council and the United Nations, using dozens of maps, say Shebaa is part of Syria but the two nations were free to change the border, which they have not done.

Syria and Lebanon have not had embassies on each other's territory since Western powers carved the two states out of the remnants of the Ottoman empire in 1920. Damascus says its many bilateral ties rather than embassies suffice for the present. (Reuters)



France preparing draft UN resolution on Lebanon-Syria ties

UNITED NATIONS - France said Wednesday that it was preparing a draft resolution that would urge Syria to respond to Lebanon's call for establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two neighbors and for a demarcation of their common border.

France's UN envoy Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said he was consulting with other members of the Security Council and hoped to have a text ready "at the beginning of next week."

He noted that Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's call to Syria, made here Friday in an address, was "very important for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon."

"It is important that Syria answers these requests," the French envoy said.

He spoke after a briefing of the 15-member Security Council by Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN envoy tasked with settling the Syrian-Lebanese dispute.

Speaking earlier, US Ambassador John Bolton said: "We think another resolution by the Security Council is warranted to highlight continued Syrian failure to comply with the requirements of (resolution) 1559."

Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in 2005 after 29 years of military and political domination of its smaller neighbor, in line with Security Council Resolution 1559 passed the previous year.

Roed-Larsen meanwhile pointed out that it was exactly one year ago that Syria withdrew its armed forces and military intelligence from Lebanon.

He noted that a report by UN chief Kofi Annan stressed the need to disarm all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias in order to fulfill the requirements of resolution 1559.

Roed-Larsen said: "We are encouraging Iran, Syria and also other countries and actors in the region who have influence related to the full implementation of 1559 to be helpful."  

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