Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

Alan Shatter


36 Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on whether the continued occupation of Lebanon by Syrian troops is acceptable; the initiatives taken by him on behalf of the State at United Nations and European level to put pressure on Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1155/02]

Syrian troops are stationed in Lebanon at the invitation of and with the consent of the Government of Lebanon and the question of this State putting pressure on Syria to withdraw its troops does not arise. I am aware that some elements in Lebanese society would like to see a reduction of the Syrian presence in their country while others favour closer and stronger links. The resolution of this question is essentially a matter for Lebanese politicians.

A large scale withdrawal of Syrian troops from the vicinity of Beirut took place in June 2001 and further redeployment of forces might be expected in the context of a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East dispute. We look forward to a resumption of negotiations on all outstanding aspects of the peace process and urge all sides to take the necessary measures for this to happen. I would hope in this way that the situation is reached whereby there are no longer any foreign troops stationed in the countries of the region.