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New UN Envoy To Visit Damascus, Beirut

New UN Envoy On Foreign Troops In Lebanon To Visit Damascus, Beirut

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's newly appointed top envoy on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon will meet in the coming week with the leaders of Lebanon and Syria, which has 14,000 troops on its smaller neighbour's soil, a United Nations spokesman announced today.

Terje Roed-Larsen, until last month the UN Special Coordinator for the <">http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=70&Body=Palestin&Body1=">
Middle East Peace Process, will visit Damascus on Saturday when he will convey a message from Mr. Annan to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Beirut on Tuesday on a similar mission to Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.

Mr. Roed-Larsen's official title is Special Envoy for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, adopted in September ahead of elections in Lebanon, which supported polling free from outside influence and called for the withdrawal of all remaining foreign forces, the disbanding of all militias and the extension of Government control over the entire country.

In an initial report in October Mr. Annan said that aside from a UN peacekeeping force, the only significant foreign forces in Lebanon were Syrian. He said Syria indicated it had some 14,000 troops still inside Lebanon stationed near the border, and that it had redeployed about 3,000 other forces.

He reported that the Governments of both Lebanon and Syria said the timing of further withdrawals would be determined by the security situation in Lebanon and the region and they could not provide a schedule for such action.

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