03/21/2006, 00.00
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Very crucial weeks for Middle East, says UN envoy

Roed-Larsen holds talks with leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as Arab League secretary general. He is now expected in Beirut. He praises Lebanon's national dialogue, UN resolution implementation and Taif agreement which call for militia disarmament and dissolution.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Top UN envoy to the Middle East Terje Roed-Larsen, after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, warned the region is going through one of its most critical periods, citing the crises in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinian territories and Iran. He is currently on a tour of the region that has included stops in Saudi Arabia and Qatar (which currently represents the Arab group in the UN Security Council) and a meeting with Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League. He is now expected in Lebanon, most likely next Thursday.

Part of his mission is to prepare a report that UN General Secretary Kofi Annan will submit to the UN Security Council on the implementation of Resolution 1559 on the Lebanese crisis.

At the end of his meeting with Mubarak, he said: "We discussed the situation in the broader Middle East, which is now reaching a critical juncture in its history. The present circumstances in the region naturally affect the situation in Lebanon, where the ongoing national dialogue is a highly positive and commendable initiative."

He noted that talks between Lebanon's various political and religious components must continue without outside intervention and said that the issue of militia disarmament—especially Hezbollah and Palestinian militias—as required by Resolution 1559 was part of that process.

Mr Mr Roed-Larsen stressed Secretary General Annan's position whereby the issue must be solved in accordance with the Taif agreement and UN resolutions which call for the disarmament and dissolution of militias.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who is in Brussels on an official visit, received pledges of support to Lebanon's independence and unity.

Yesterday, European Union's foreign ministers confirmed the need to implement UN Security 1644 and 1559, including the removal of Lebanese and foreign militias' weapons from Lebanon.

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