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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK
UN urges Syria to leave Lebanon
Syrian soldiers guard a radar station in the Bekaa Valley
Syrian troops have been in Lebanon for 28 years
The United Nations has issued a statement calling on Syria to pull its troops out of Lebanon, in accordance with a resolution passed last month.

The Security Council statement was unanimous, meaning that it received the backing of Algeria, the only Arab member of the Security Council.

Lebanon said the call set a "dangerous precedent of interference".

Syria's ambassador to the UN said the US had pressured other Security Council members into accepting the statement.

US deputy ambassador Anne Patterson said Washington was "quite pleased that this was a unanimous strong decision".

She added: "It is important... that Syria cease interference in Lebanon's internal affairs, disarm militias and remove Syrian troops from Lebanon."

Strong ties

The Security Council adopted a resolution in September urging Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon.

The US and France-sponsored resolution called for Lebanon's political independence to be respected, and demanded the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country.

It also called on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to report on any progress on the issue twice a year.

While it does not mention any country by name, Syria is the only country to have troops stationed in Lebanon.

Reporting to the Security Council earlier this month, Mr Annan said Syria had so far refused to say when and how troops would leave.

Syria first sent troops into Lebanon in 1976, at the beginning of the civil war there.

Most of the forces stayed on in the country after the conflict ended in 1990.

Damascus' military and political influence in Lebanon remains strong, but Syria argues that its presence is a stabilising influence.

The Syrian Foreign Minister, Faruq al-Sharah, said Tuesday's statement was an illegal intervention in the relationship between Syria and Lebanon.

Why the UN wants Syrian troops out of Lebanon

UN mulls Syria-Lebanon resolution
15 Oct 04  |  Middle East
Syria 'refusing to leave Lebanon'
01 Oct 04  |  Middle East
US tells Syria to leave Lebanon
11 Sep 04  |  Middle East
Syria feels squeeze over Lebanon
05 Sep 04  |  Middle East
UN backs Lebanon sovereignty call
03 Sep 04  |  Middle East
Country profile: Lebanon
09 Jul 04  |  Country profiles

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