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UN Envoy Meets Syrian President

12 March 2005 -- UN diplomat Terje Roed-Larsen began talks today with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo about the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

Al-Assad announced a week ago that he would redeploy Syrian forces in Lebanon in two stages. But he has set no date for full withdrawal as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

A 62-vehicle convoy carrying Syrian troops and equipment withdrawn from northern Lebanon crossed the border early today in heavy snow. Syrians at the frontier welcomed the troops home, throwing flowers and chanting, "We love Syria!"

But intelligence agents remained in nine offices in northern Lebanon. Roed-Larsen said that the UN expects al-Assad to produce a timetable for the full withdrawal of troops and intelligence officers.