UN envoy wraps up visit with Syrian agreement to withdraw from Lebanon

“All my meetings were conducted in the spirit of dialogue and cooperation which has characterized my mission since its very beginning,” said Terje Roed-Larsen, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for implementing 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.Mr. Roed-Larsen told a news conference in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, that although he raised all four elements of the resolution he focused primarily on the Syrian withdrawal and Lebanon’s upcoming parliamentary elections in his talks with the countries’ leaders, who agreed that a UN team would verify the pullout.He impressed on the Lebanese authorities the necessity of holding free and fair elections according to schedule, which is by the end of next month. “The Secretary-General believes that these elections are a primary instrument for safeguarding the continued stability of the country,” he said.Mr. Roed-Larsen will now report back to Mr. Annan, who will in turn report to the Security Council later this month. “The Secretary-General believes strongly that the implementation of resolution 1559 should proceed in such a way that would best ensure and safeguard the unity and stability of Lebanon, of Syria and of the wider region,” the envoy said.He added that he would continue his talks to secure full implementation of all parts of the resolution. read more