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US, France Prepare Security Council Resolution Pressuring Syria

The United States and France are preparing a new U.N. Security Council resolution highlighting Syria's continuing interference in Lebanon.

Washington's U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says the United States has concluded that another Security Council resolution is needed to pressure Syria to comply with previous Council requirements.

Bolton's comment came as the 15-member Council met to discuss a report from Secretary-General Kofi Annan that questions Syrian efforts to fulfill obligations under a 2004 resolution demanding it withdraw all forces from Lebanon.

French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere says the process of drafting a new measure has begun. He says it could be put before the full Council early next week.

De La Sabliere told reporters the resolution was prompted by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's address to the Council last week, in which he called on Syria to establish diplomatic relations and delineate their border.

"Mr. Siniora, when he came, stretching out the hand to Syria on two very important issues which are very very important to sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, which is the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and limitation of boundaries, and it's important that Syria answer to these requests, and we will see if they are really genuine when they say they are in favor of the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon," said de La Sabliere.

In its September 2004 resolution, the Security Council demanded Syria's full withdrawal from Lebanon, and the disbanding and disarmament of all militias.

Western diplomats say that includes Hezbollah, which the United States regards as a terrorist group. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah has kept its weapons, saying they are needed to defend Lebanon.

The secretary-general's report last week for the first time linked Iran to instability in Lebanon, noting that Hezbollah has close ties and frequent contact with Tehran as well as Damascus.

Ambassador Bolton Wednesday said the proposed draft resolution would also include a call for Syria's cooperation in the U.N. investigation into the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The probe has implicated senior Lebanese and Syrian security officials.