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UN Teams Due In Lebanon Soon

UN Teams Due In Lebanon Soon To Verify Syrian Pullback And Ready Murder Probe

New York, Apr 22 2005

Two United Nations teams will be heading to Lebanon in the coming days, one to verify the pullout of Syria's military and intelligence forces from its small neighbour, and the other to prepare for a Security Council-mandated inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a UN spokesman said today.

The first team is to verify Syria's compliance with Security Council resolution 1559, which calls for withdrawing all foreign forces from Lebanon, disbanding all militias, extending Government control over the whole country and holding free elections.

It is being put together by the UN Peacekeeping Department and will be a technical team led by military experts, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the daily news briefing in New York.

Under an agreement worked out earlier this month by Terje Roed-Larsen, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for implementing <"http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=s/res/1559(2004)">resolution 1559, Syria agreed to withdraw all its forces, military assets and intelligence apparatus from its smaller neighbour by 30 April, ending a physical presence than began with the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war. The Secretary-General is scheduled to issue a second report on the situation by 26 April.

The second team will be a small advance party to prepare the ground for an international independent investigation Commission which the Security Council established on 7 April to probe Mr. Hariri's assassination, after an initial UN fact-finding mission found Lebanon's own probe seriously flawed and declared Syria, with its troop presence, primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the assassination.

The head of the new Commission has not yet been named, Mr. Dujarric said.

Mr. Hariri's murder led to an increase in tension in Lebanon ahead of elections scheduled to take place by the end of May, with mass demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

ENDS

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