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French Version


Opposition gives mixed reaction to Assad's proposal for a two-phase withdrawal

Lebanon's political opposition gave a mixed reaction to Syrian President Bashar Assad's proposal for a two phase withdrawal of his troops from Lebanon. While some opposition members welcomed Syria's commitment to pullback from Lebanon, others labeled his proposals "unacceptable" and "lacking a clear timetable."

Leading opposition member Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt praised the speech.

Jumblatt, who had been calling for a complete and immediate Syrian withdrawal and President Emile Lahoud's resignation, said: "The Syrian president's speech is positive and meets our aspirations. He gave a new vision and that's what we've been calling for."
He added: "This is a positive start."

But former President Amin Gemayel said: "What is dangerous is this deployment on the borders. We have information that the Syrian army will stay in the mountain range within the Lebanese border. This does not form the basis for a real solution to the Lebanese crisis."

Fares Soeid added: "Assad's speech was a political announcement. What the Lebanese are waiting for is implementation of this announcement."

He added: "Today, there is international scrutiny of the implementation of the withdrawal and unless there is a full pullback, Syria will have to answer to the international community, not just to the Lebanese people."

During his speech Assad had said some Lebanese showed lack of loyalty towards what Syria offered during its 29-year stay in Lebanon.

He also accused some members of the opposition of preparing a secret agreement with Israel.

Opposition Metn MP Nassib Lahoud, who immediately after the speech indicated Assad had failed to give a firm commitment to withdrawing his troops, said: "None of the opposition members are trying to prepare an agreement with Israel, which excludes Syria."

Lahoud added: "We would have preferred Assad not to talk about betrayal and the lack of loyalty, which does not serve the relations of both countries."

Exiled former army commander General Michel Aoun described Assad's speech as one of "Syria's policies to win time."

During his speech Assad criticized some members of the opposition, which he said: "Called themselves Syria's allies and used their relationship with Syria in order to achieve their private interests."

In a thinly veiled swipe at Jumblatt, Assad continued: "They used to sell and buy positions and they moved from one position to another. Most of them are well known to you."

Beirut 06-03-2005
Redaction
The Daily Star



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