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French Version

Paris summit urges implementing 1559 (Daily Star)

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The leaders of France, Russia, Germany and Spain jointly demanded Friday for action on UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and called on Syria to immediately withdraw its troops and security services from Lebanon.French President Jacques Chirac said: "We have adopted a joint statement on Lebanon, a communique that, like the whole international community, insists on the compelling necessity to implement Resolution 1559."

Following a meeting in Paris, Chirac, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero issued the statement, calling for "the total withdrawal of Syrian armed forces and security services ... that must quickly leave Lebanese territory."

They agreed it was "necessary ... that a government capable of acting in the interests of all Lebanese people is formed quickly," and free and transparent elections take place in the country according to agreed timetables.

"We will be attentive to make sure the electoral process runs smoothly," the statement said, adding the leaders hoped independent electoral observers will monitor the elections.

The four leaders' call comes at a time when a leading religious Lebanese figure visits the United States to get similar backing for the resolution.

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, who is currently visiting Washington upon an invitation by U.S. President George W. Bush, was to meet on Friday with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen to discuss the implementation of 1559.

Sfeir believes the 1989 Lebanese Taif Accord and Resolution 1559 do not differ and lead to the same conclusion.

Sfeir said that Bush assured him that his country supports Lebanon's democracy and independence and insists on a full Syrian pullout before the elections that must run without any outside influence.

Speaking in a Mass in the National Shrine Church in New York on Friday, Sfeir said: "We want the Syrians out of Lebanon but Syria is our neighboring country with whom we have economic, political and social ties."

Sfeir said that the Lebanese people have family ties with the Syrians and "we cannot be foes."

"We want Syria to be a free and sovereign state within its own borders as mush as we want Lebanon to be free and sovereign within our own borders," the patriarch added.

Sfeir also advised the Lebanese opposition to join a neutral government whose only mission is to run the spring parliamentary elections and guard Lebanon's state institutions.

Sfeir said: "Representatives from the opposition and the loyalists could form a nonpolitician government that should give way to a new government coming from free and fair elections."

Sfeir had opposed forcing President Emile Lahoud out of office fearing a power vacuum, but said in Washington: "If essential, we could demand Lahoud's resignation after the elections."

Sfeir argued that the country could not survive without its basic administration. He said: "Without a government and a president we create a constitutional crisis that would lead to chaos and public disorder."

As for Hizbullah, he said it is not a terrorist organization but a resistance movement.

"However, it would not be fair that one party stays armed while others do not," he said.

He added that the Lebanese state would be responsible for defense matters and arms should be a under the state's control. "This is an internal issue that the Lebanese must find ways to solve peacefully and not through foreign intervention."

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Beirut 19-03-2005
Adnan El Ghoul
The Daily Star

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