Montreal, Canada - April 05, 2005

Canada welcomes Syrian decision to withdraw from Lebanon and supports independent inquiry into Hariri assassination: Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew today made the following statement welcoming Syria’s decision to withdraw its military and intelligence personnel from Lebanon by April 30, 2005. Mr. Pettigrew also offered his support for an international independent commission to assist Lebanese authorities in investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri:

“I welcome Syria’s decision on April 3 to withdraw the remainder of its troops and intelligence personnel from Lebanon by April 30 and to accept a United Nations team to verify the withdrawal. The UN Special Envoy has indicated that Syria will thereby be in compliance with its obligations under the Taif Accords and UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

“The report of the UN fact-finding mission on the assassination of the former Prime Minister, made public on March 24, 2005, raises troubling issues about the Lebanese investigation of Mr. Hariri’s assassination. It also calls into question Syria’s role in destabilizing Lebanon’s political climate. An impartial inquiry into the bombing, under UN auspices, is essential to identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators.

“A free and open political dialogue among all Lebanese parties is crucial to a peaceful, stable Lebanon and to the success of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for May 2005.

“I also wish to voice my concern about, and condemnation of, the recent escalation of violence in and near Beirut. Such tactics are a clear attempt to intimidate the public and suppress the growing calls for greater democratic reform and freedom from foreign interference. We urge all parties to respect the aspirations of the Lebanese people for democracy and the rule of law.”

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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
http://www.international.gc.ca

Reference: http://webapps.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/MinPub/Publication.asp?Language=E&publication_id=382377

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