The United States will seek a U.N. Security Council resolution to highlight what it says is Syria’s continued interference in Lebanon, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Wednesday.
Bolton spoke before the council discussing a report from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that repeated questions about Syria’s intention to fulfill a previous resolution passed in 2004 calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, the disarming of militias, and other measures.
“The U.S. has concluded, we think, another resolution by the Security Council is warranted to highlight continued Syrian failure to comply,” Bolton said.
The resolution could also pressure Syria to cooperate more with the U.N.-backed investigation into the February 2005 slaying of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Senior Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials have been implicated in the slaying.
Hariri’s assassination proved to be a turning point in Lebanon’s recent history. It led to Syria’s withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon, ending a 29-year presence in the country, and parliamentary elections in which anti-Syrian legislators gained the majority.
Yet doubts remain about Syria’s willingness to abandon all influence in Lebanon.
Annan has warned that Lebanon will not regain full sovereignty and independence until Hezbollah and other Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias that operate freely in the country give up their arms and come under government control.
Annan links Iran, unrest in Lebanon
In the report, Annan also linked Iran to instability in Lebanon for the first time, urging Tehran to cooperate in trying to restore Lebanon’s political independence and disarm militias. Iran is believed to have close contacts with Hezbollah.
“It’s well-known and it’s in the media that there are close contacts between Iran and Hezbollah and we are simply asking Iran to be helpful in order to fulfill the obligations and requirements” of the resolution, said Terje Roed-Larsen, the top U.N. envoy on Lebanon-Syria issues.
Larsen repeated Annan’s urging that Syria accept Lebanon’s offer to determine the border between both countries and establish an embassy in Beirut to help reaffirm Lebanon’s sovereignty and political independence.
Bolton spoke after Syria’s U.N. representative sent a letter to Annan and the Security Council insisting that it fully respects Lebanon’s sovereignty. The letter warned against any new council action.
“Pushing the Security Council by some parties to adopt new resolutions or statements ... will escalate the situation of instability and tension,” the letter said.
Other members of the Security Council were cautious as well.
“The region’s already complicated, we don’t want to make it more complicated,” China’s Ambassador Wang Guangya said. “We are not so enthusiastic about more resolutions.”