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UN to Verify Syrian Withdrawal from Lebanon


The United Nations' Middle East envoy says a U.N. team will verify Syria's military withdrawal from Lebanon, and says upcoming Lebanese elections must be free and fair.

Terje Roed-Larsen spoke Wednesday in Beirut, after the latest round of meetings with Lebanese officials about the pullout. Sunday, the envoy secured a promise from Syria's president Bashar al-Assad that all Syrian troops would leave Lebanon by April 30.

Analysts say about half of Syria's 14,000-troop force has left the country in the past two weeks, and Reuters news agency says the pullout continued Wednesday.

Mr. Roed-Larsen has been using a U.N. resolution to leverage the pullout, ahead of Lebanese elections which must be completed before parliament's mandate expires May 31.

The envoy also said he has not yet scheduled talks on the disarming of Lebanon's anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah, as called for in the resolution.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP, AFP.

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