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» 03/10/2005
LEBANON
Opposition backed by Patriarch Sfeir meets
Before Patriarch Sfeir leaves for the US to visit President Bush opposition will examine developments following Assad's speech, Hezbollah's rally and Syrian army redeployment.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Kornet Chehwan, the opposition grouping backed by Patriarch Sfeir and set up in 2000 following an appeal by Maronite bishops, will meet this afternoon to vet the situation in Lebanon.

Mgr Youssef Mohsen Bechara, Bishop of Antelia, will preside over the meeting which will discuss the current situation in light of Syrian President Bachar Assad's speech last Saturday and the decisions taken in Damascus last Monday by the Syrian Lebanese Higher Council presided jointly by Lebanese President Émile Lahoud and the same Bachar Assad.

The latest speech given by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hesbollah's General Secretary, before hundreds of thousands of people last Tuesday in Riad El Solh will also be scrutinised as will the redeployment of Syrian troops, which began on Monday.

Kornet Chehwan's review of the situation comes ahead of Maronite Patriarch Nassrallah Sfeir's departure for the United States where he is scheduled to meet President George Bush. He will be accompanied by the Vicar General and a group of opposition Members of Lebanon's National Assembly.

For his part the US President will meet the Patriarch after publicly calling Syria's pullout plan inadequate, a "half measure" when it should have announced the complete withdrawal of its troops and intelligence apparatus from the country.

This morning Syrian troops were preparing to leave the important border post of Arida, in northern Lebanon.

Elsewhere the pullout has already started. Tanks and artillery units were being concentrated in Qoleïaat Air Base, which is three kilometres from the border, ready to be pulled out at a quick notice. Last night convoys carrying troops left their positions throughout the country. Most of the bases they evacuated were taken over by Lebanon's army. (JH)


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See also
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Maronite Patriarch says Syria should withdraw in a situation of calm and dialogue
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