UNITED NATIONS – Syria has not pulled its forces out of Lebanon as called for by a U.N. Security Council (search) resolution, Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) reported on Friday, adding he had asked Damascus for a timetable for its "full implementation."
Lebanon also failed to meet a council request to disband and disarm all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and was also asked for a similar timetable for its compliance, Annan said.
"It is time, 14 years after the end of hostilities and four years after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, for all parties concerned to set aside the remaining vestiges of the past," Annan said in his report to the Security Council.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces and the disbandment and disarmament of militias would, with finality, end that sad chapter of Lebanese history."
On Sept. 2, the deeply divided council narrowly adopted a resolution introduced by the United States and France calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and the disbanding of militias. It asked Annan to report on compliance in 30 days.
The resolution was aimed at pressuring Lebanon to reject a constitutional amendment to allow a second term for President Emile Lahoud (search).
But the following day parliament voted 96-29 to allow Lahoud to remain in power until 2007. The move was largely believed to have been spearheaded by Syria, which has maintained troops in Lebanon since 1976, a year after civil war broke out there.
While the U.N. resolution sent a strong message to Syria to get out of Lebanon, the final draft dropped a threat "to consider additional measures" if it isn't implemented.
Nonetheless, Annan's request for timetables from Damascus and Beirut indicated the United Nations is not about to abandon the issue.
In his report, Annan said the Syrian government reported it had redeployed 3,000 troops and still had about 14,000 troops in its smaller neighbor, stationed near the Syrian border.
He said Lebanese officials assured him they intended to disarm all militias. But the report said: "The fragile security situation in the region, the risk to Lebanon's stability and the lack of a comprehensive regional peace process would make it difficult to implement the resolution immediately and fully."
It appeared unlikely that the Lebanese disarmament would extend to Hezbollah — a Shiite group that Lebanon and other Arab countries view as a legitimate national resistance movement but the United States considers a terrorist group.
Annan said the Lebanese government told him Hezbollah's role was in securing Lebanese land, namely the Chebaa Farms, a region currently occupied by Israel. But the United Nations has already determined that the Chebaa Farms is Syrian territory and, as a result, Israel has complied with its withdrawal from Lebanon.
The secretary-general said both governments told him the timing "of further withdrawals would be determined by the security situation in Lebanon and the region" and through a joint military committee established under the framework of an 1989 agreement.
Annan told the Security Council Syria and Lebanon had assured him that while they object to the resolution, they respect the council "and that consequently they will not contest it."
"I note these assurances and await their fulfillment," he said. "I have requested from the parties a timetable for their full implementation."