U.N.: Syria Needs Full Withdrawal Timetable

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The United Nations (search) expects Syrian President Bashar Assad (search) to produce a timetable for the full withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence officers from Lebanon, U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said Friday.

Speaking in Amman, where he sought Jordanian support for a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon (search), Roed-Larsen indicated he was optimistic about his meeting with the Syrian president in Damascus on Saturday.

"I expect that we will get the commitment and timetables for the full implementation of 1559," Roed-Larsen said, referring to the resolution that the United States and France steered through the Security Council last September.

When asked whether that meant the complete withdrawal of Syria's 14,000 troops in Lebanon as well as its intelligence officers, Roed-Larsen responded: "I said 'full' and 'timetables."'

Syria has begun pulling its forces back to Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley (search) and is negotiating with the Beirut government on a complete troop withdrawal at a later date. Lebanese officials have said the first phase of the pullback, including of Syrian intelligence, would be completed by March 23. Lebanon's defense minister said "thousands" of the 14,000 Syrian soldiers in Lebanon will return to Syria and the others will reposition in the Bekaa Valley for an undetermined time.

In the last two days, troops have left most of their positions in the northern port of Tripoli and two hilltop positions above that city, filling trucks with supplies and towing weapons behind them in long convoys driving eastward.

"Jordan and the United Nations see eye-to-eye on all issues," Roed-Larsen said after two hours of talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani al-Mulqi.

On Thursday, Roed-Larsen met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheik for similar talks.

The U.N. envoy referred to recent calls by Spain and Germany for Syria to leave Lebanon, indicating wide international support for the U.N. resolution.

Roed-Larsen was to arrive in Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday evening to pay his condolences to the family of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (search), whose assassination on Feb. 14 has intensified the pressure on Syria to leave.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah told Assad in Riyadh earlier this month to withdraw Syria's forces from Lebanon quickly or face the consequences.

The U.N. Security Council is due to consider the implementation of the resolution next month. It could impose sanctions on Syria if it deems the country to have flouted the resolution.