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UN Envoy Meets Lebanese Leaders on Syrian Pullout


The U.N. special envoy for Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, has met with Lebanese leaders to discuss plans for Syria's total withdrawal of troops and intelligence officers from Lebanon.

Lebanese foreign minister Mahmoud Hamoud told Mr. Roed-Larsen there will be discussions on April 7 by the Syrian-Lebanese joint military commission on the duration, time, and location of Syria's redeployment.

For his part, Mr. Roed-Larsen avoided comment on the political impasse in Lebanon between the pro-Syrian government and opposition leaders who are pushing for Syria to withdraw.

"We have had a good and friendly meeting related to what is my mission here and I would like to emphasize that to you, my mission here is only one, namely the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559 and nothing else," he said.

The resolution he mentioned is sponsored by the United States and France, and it demands a total and immediate Syrian pullout of its 14,000 troops and thousands more of intelligence personnel.

Mr. Roed-Larsen says he won a promise from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to comply with the resolution when the two men met Saturday in Syria. The U.N. envoy says he will reveal details of the timetable later this week to his boss, Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The office of pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud issued a statement promising full cooperation in implementing the U.N. resolution, but in a process that assures Lebanon remains stable.

As Mr. Roed-Larsen conducted his talks in Beirut, another large pro-Syrian demonstration was held in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh, a stronghold the Syrian-backed Hezbollah militant group.

This was the second mass rally by Hezollah since Tuesday, when about half a million of its supporters jammed a main square in Beirut. Hezbollah rejects the U.N. resolution, in part because it requires the group to disarm its militia.

Another anti-Syria rally is planned for Monday to mark one month since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese blame Syria for the killing, but Damascus denies involvement.

The Hariri killing set off a chain of events - including mass demonstrations and international diplomatic pressure - that has led Syria to announce its withdrawal from Lebanon.

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