May 17, 2006

UN Security Council presses Syria on Lebanon ties

By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A divided U.N. Security Council
on Wednesday pressed Syria and Lebanon to establish formal
diplomatic ties and clarify their shared border to help turn
the page on decades of Syrian domination of its neighbor.

China and Russia abstained from a 13-0 vote in the
15-member Security Council to implement fully a 2004 measure
seeking an end to outside interference in Lebanon, which at the
time had been under Syrian domination for 29 years.

The 2004 text, Security Council Resolution 1559, calls for
the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, free and
fair presidential elections, and the disarming of all militias
so the government could extend its control to all of its
territory. It has been only partly implemented.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton welcomed the vote, but
acknowledged he would have preferred it to be unanimous.

"It makes clear the burden is now on Syria" to respond to
the Lebanese government's request for formal relations and a
delineation of the border, Bolton told reporters.

"It clearly says Syria needs to do more to stop the flow of
weapons across the Syrian border."

Council diplomats had predicted that Qatar and Argentina
would either abstain or vote against the resolution, but both
countries voted in favor of the measure drafted by France, the
United States and Britain.

Argentina nonetheless reiterated its objection to what it
saw as council interference in a question of diplomatic
relations, a matter it said should be left to Damascus and

Qatar voiced its objection to the drafters' rejection of
its request that the resolution also fault Israel for its
frequent military flights over Lebanese territory.

"These are among the elements hampering the full
implementation of Resolution 1559 and are also a breach of
Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity," Qatar's U.N.
ambassador, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, told the council.