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UN Military Team Set To Leave For Lebanon

26 April 2005

UN Military Team Set To Leave For Lebanon Today To Verify Syrian Withdrawal

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is dispatching a United Nations military team to Lebanon today to verify whether there has been a full and complete withdrawal of all Syrian troops, military assets and intelligence apparatus as mandated by Security Council resolution 1559.

A UN spokesman said Mr. Annan had asked the mission to complete its work as soon as possible following an accord worked out earlier this month by his special envoy on this issue, under which Syria agreed to withdraw from its smaller neighbour by 30 April, ending a physical presence that began with the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war.

"He expects those governments to cooperate fully with the mission and provide it with the necessary support and assistance to carry out its task," spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the daily news briefing in New York.

Mr. Annan is scheduled to issue a second report on the situation by Tuesday and will present the findings of the verification team to the Security Council as a supplement.

The team will be comprised of Brigadier General Elhadji Mouhamadou Kandji of Senegal, currently the Deputy Military Adviser in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Colonel Ian Sinclair of the United Kingdom, currently Chief of Staff of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, and Commander Kari Olavi Makinen of Finland, currently in the DPKO Missions Operations Service.

Mr. Annan's Special Envoy for implementing "http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=s/res/1559(2004)"resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, reached the agreement with Syria and Lebanon after several weeks of shuttle diplomacy. The Council passed the resolution last September but the matter gained added urgency after the assassination in February of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri increased tensions.

A UN advance party is also arriving this week in Lebanon to prepare the ground for an international independent investigation Commission set up by the Security Council to probe Mr. Hariri's murder, 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.

ENDS

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