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Lebanon: UN continues regional mission on eve

Lebanon: UN envoy continues regional mission on eve of new reconciliation talks

Ahead of tomorrow’s resumption of multi-party talks in Lebanon aimed at bringing about national reconciliation, a senior United Nations official today conferred with senior officials of Qatar, a key regional player.

“Qatar, which currently represents the Arab Group in the Security Council, has long played a very positive role in the Middle East and exerts important efforts to help stabilize the region,” UN Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said in praising his hosts.

“It was for this reason that Secretary-General Kofi Annan dispatched me to Qatar, in addition to my previous stops in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and to my next station, Jordan,” he added of his talks with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem and other senior officials.

Mr. Roed-Larsen is Mr. Annan’s Special Envoy for implementing Security Council resolution 1559, which calls for withdrawing all foreign forces from Lebanon, holding free elections, disbanding all militias and extending Government control over the whole country.

While the first two goals were achieved last year with Syrian withdrawal and parliamentary elections, the Security Council has called for a dialogue on the second two, and earlier this month the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, officially initiated the first round of the so-called Lebanese National Dialogue, a move Mr. Annan welcomed.

“The Dialogue has already yielded important agreements, and we look forward to its next stage,” Mr. Roed-Larsen said today. He also discussed wider Middle East issues, underscoring the fragility of the situation in the region and emphasizing in this context the importance of the Lebanese dialogue.

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