UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared today in a press conference at the
United Nations that Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon in full compliance
with UN Security Council Resolution 425, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese government announced on Thursday the formation of
a force of 500 soldiers and 500 police officers to be deployed in South
Lebanon. To strengthen the Lebanese government's grip on
the country, a growing number of U.S. Congressional officials and
pro-Israeli groups are calling for more vigorous U.S. action to end Syria's
presence in Lebanon. Ned Walker, Assistant Secretary of State on the Middle
East, told a special meeting of the Senate Foreign Affairs subcommittee that
the Clinton administration hopes for change in Lebanon without having to
resort to "negative action." Walker added that the United States hopes that
in the wake of Assad's death, the new Syrian leadership will give up its
presence in Lebanon, sever its ties with terrorism, and negotiate a peace
agreement with Israel.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara said in an interview on Lebanese
television late last week that "Syria's presence in Lebanon is definitely
temporary. Nobody can imagine that Syria's presence, that is the military
presence in Lebanon, is permanent." Al-Shara's statements were prompted by a
campaign waged by opponents of Syrian military hegemony in Lebanon.
According to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, Lebanese newspaper A-Naar reported
today that seven Lebanese citizens were injured in South Lebanon in clashes
between Amal and Hizbullah terrorists. The scuffle followed arguments
between members of the two organizations regarding, among other issues, the
hanging of pictures of their respective group leaders.