Syria to Start Troop Pullout from Lebanon Soon
Syria must end its occupation of Lebanon, President Bush said on Monday, branding Damascus an “oppressive neighbor” to a once-thriving nation. “Just as the Syrian regime must take stronger action to stop those who support violence and subversion in Iraq and must end its support for terrorist groups seeking to destroy the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Syria must also end its occupation of Lebanon,” Bush said in a keynote speech in Europe. Washington, which suspects Syria had a role in last week’s killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, has piled pressure on Damascus and Bush said before his visit that he would press European leaders to follow suit.
Syria indicated on Monday it would start pulling out some of its troops from Lebanon soon, as President Bush called on Damascus to “end of its occupation” of its tiny neighbor. International and Lebanese pressure have mounted on Syria since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in Beirut on Feb. 14, blamed by Lebanon’s opposition on Damascus.
Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told him Damascus would soon take steps toward withdrawing its forces in line with the Taif agreement which ended Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war. “President Bashar al-Assad stressed more than once in (our) talks his firm intention to press ahead with the implementation of the al-Taif agreement and to plan a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon in line with this agreement,” he told reporters after meeting Assad in Damascus. “The issue of the al-Taif (pact) and the withdrawal is … part of the Syrian policy. There will be talk and steps that we will see soon,” Moussa said.
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Story 2 via Steven Taylor