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UN Urges Syria to Mend Ties with Beirut
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The UN Security Council adopted a resolution yesterday pressing Syria to establish diplomatic relations and set its border with Lebanon, which it said would be "a significant step" to asserting Lebanon's sovereignty and political independence.


The resolution, co-sponsored by the US, France and Britain, was approved by a vote of 13-0 with Russia and China abstaining. They have argued that the resolution is not needed and would constitute UN interference in bilateral Lebanese-Syrian relations.


Syria said the resolution was provocative and biased. "The insistence of the sponsors of this resolution to pass it ... constitutes uncalled for pressure and provocation that complicates the situation," a statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.


Syria withdrew its forces from Lebanon last year, ending a 29-year occupation after mass demonstrations that blamed Damascus for the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has denied involvement.


The Lebanese government and all political parties in the country have called on Syria to establish diplomatic ties with Beirut and mark their border, which includes the disputed Chebaa Farms region.


The Security Council, in yesterday's resolution, "strongly encourages the government of Syria to respond positively to the request made by the government of Lebanon, in line with the agreements of the Lebanese national dialogue, to delineate their common border ... and to establish full diplomatic relations and representation."


(China Daily May 18, 2006)


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