DAMASCUS, Syria – The Syrian government has promised to remove all its troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon (search) by April 30, the U.N. envoy said Sunday after meeting with Syria's president and foreign minister.
The withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, where they have been stationed since 1976, has been demanded by a United Nations resolution last year, which also called on Syria (search) to end its influence in Lebanese politics.
In a statement, U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa informed him that "all Syrian troops, military assets and the intelligence apparatus will have been withdrawn fully and completely" by April 30, at the latest. Roed-Larsen met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and al-Sharaa.
Roed-Larsen said the commitment implies all Syrian security forces will be withdrawn in line with the 1989 Taif agreement, which paved the way for the end of the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war (search), and September's U.N. Security Council resolution 1559 (search).
The U.N. resolution also demanded an end to Syrian influence in Lebanese politics.
International pressure has increased against Syria to leave Lebanon since the Feb. 14 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
Hariri's assassination, which the Lebanese opposition blame on Syria and its allies in the Lebanese government, also sparked massive anti-Syrian demonstration in Lebanon, where Damascus was the main power broker for many years.
Both Syrian and Lebanese government have vehemently denied any involvement in the bombing and condemned it.
Syria has already begun withdrawing its army from Lebanon. In the past weeks, Syrian troops have completely pulled out of western regions of Lebanon to the eastern Bekaa Valley closer to their country's border, and soldiers and equipment have been removed to Syria.