Hariri in Paris for talks on Lebanon

30th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

BEIRUT, Sept 29 (AFP) - Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri left for Paris on Wednesday where he is to hold talks with French President Jacques Chirac ahead of a crucial UN Security Council report on Syria's dominant role in Lebanon.

BEIRUT, Sept 29 (AFP) - Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri left for Paris on Wednesday where he is to hold talks with French President Jacques Chirac ahead of a crucial UN Security Council report on Syria's dominant role in Lebanon.  

Hariri's trip follows the adoption earlier this month by the council of a resolution co-sponsored by France - traditionally an ally of Lebanon - and the United States calling for an end to foreign political and military interference in Lebanon.  

"This visit is important because of its timing and because of the weight of France," Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares said after talks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York.  

While Hariri's office has described his trip to Paris as a "working visit", it comes shortly before Annan is expected on Friday to brief the council on the implementation of Resolution 1559.  

Resolution l559 was a clear message to Syria, which dominates political life in its tiny neighbour and maintains thousands of troops there.  

Completing a limited pullout begun last week, Damascus said Wednesday that 3,000 of its soldiers had been withdrawn, leaving about 15,000 still on Lebanese soil.  

Paris is reportedly in favour of keeping the pressure on Damascus through a system of regular reports on the situation to the security council.  

"The Security Council has the intention of imposing a follow-up committee" on the implementation of 1559, said Fares, saying that would be "a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Lebanon and Syria."  

Hariri is also expected to present his 2005 budget to Chirac on Thursday, proof he says that he is undertaking the structural reforms requested by the international community aimed at reducing the country's massive USD 35 billion debt.  

A donors' conference was held in Paris in 2002 with the aim of getting Lebanon's war-torn economy back on its feet, but funds were given on condition that necessary economic reforms were implemented.  

Paris reportedly blames Syrian interference for the fact that Beirut has not kept its promises to reform.  

Within Lebanon, conflict between Hariri and pro-Damascus President Emile Lahoud has been blamed for the impasse on reform.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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