Montreal, Canada - March 05, 2005

Statement by minister pettigrew on syrian troop redeployment: February 5, 2005 (4:20 p.m. EST), No. 39

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew issued the following statement today, following President Bashar al-Assad's announcement about Syrian troops in Lebanon:

"Today's announcement by Syria of a redeployment of its troops to the Beka'a Valley and from there to the Syrian-Lebanese border falls short of Syria's obligations and the requirements of the people of Lebanon and the international community. In my visit to Damascus on February 12, I made it clear that UN Resolution 1559 must be implemented. Syria should immediately begin a complete withdrawal of all of its forces from Lebanon. That withdrawal should be carried out as expeditiously as possible.

"We believe that today's announcement is a signal that Syrians recognize the need for change in Lebanon; redeployment rather than withdrawal will, however, delay democratic progress in Lebanon and perpetuate instability in the region. We urge the Syrian authorities to re-examine their position and bring forward a firm plan for withdrawal.

"The Lebanese response to the tragic killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri has demonstrated to the world the passion and desire of all Lebanese people to see their country free from foreign interference. Syria's decision defies the will of the Lebanese people, which the international community supports, and which requires an early Syrian withdrawal. Canada strongly supports the Lebanese people in their aspirations toward a more complete democracy."

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Sébastien Théberge
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
(613) 995-1851

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs Canada
(613) 995-1874


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