Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered at on 30 November 2005.

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Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Syria completed the withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon on 26 April 2005, in compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1559. A United Nations (UN) verification team concluded that there are no Syrian military forces and is no visible or significant Syrian intelligence presence or activity in Lebanon, although the possibility remains of an ongoing influence of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon.

We are concerned by the reference in Special Envoy Larsen's report on 25 October 2005 of the illegal transfer of arms and people across the Syrian-Lebanese border. We urge Syria to refrain from interfering in Lebanese affairs and to work with Lebanon to ensure the full implementation of UNSCR 1559.

Syria's lack of substantive co-operation has hindered the UN International Independent Investigation Commission mandated by UNSCR 1595. As a result, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 1636, which requires Syria to improve its co-operation and allows for sanctions against those individuals accused by the ongoing investigation. We note the UN announcement on 25 November that agreement has been reached between Mr. Mehlis and the Syrian Government over the venue for the questioning of five Syrian interviewees. UNSCR 1636 requests Mr. Mehlis to report on progress to the UN Security Council by 15 December 2005.

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