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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Jean Asselborn reaffirms "strong EU support for a sovereign, independent and democratic Lebanon"

Date of release : 16-03-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : General Affairs and External Relations Council

At the end of the "General Affairs and External Relations" Council meeting, held on 16 March in Brussels, Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs and current President of the Council of the European Union, made the following statement on the Middle East:

"Regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, the latest developments seem to lend themselves to some optimism. After the 1 March meetings in London (Conference in Support of the Palestinian Authority, Ministerial Quartet), there have been closer contacts between Israel and the Palestinian party. In this context, there is special reason to welcome the finalisation of this morning’s agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians on the transfer of security control of Jericho in the West Bank region to the Palestinian Authority.

In security, the resumption of the Cairo talks on 15 March between Palestinian factions and with the participation of President Abbas is also an encouraging factor.

I would also like to refer to the Israeli cabinet’s encouraging reaction last weekend to the report on the illegal settlements built in the West Bank since Prime Minister Sharon took office in March 2001. This trend must continue.

We also discussed the situation in Lebanon. We reaffirmed our strong support for a sovereign, independent and democratic Lebanon. We also welcomed the commitment to these values that the people of Lebanon are showing.

After the latest developments, the first phase of the Syrian troop withdrawal is well under way. Mr Roed-Larsen’s meeting with President Assad last Saturday was positive and the outcome was a precise timetable for the complete withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, including intelligence services, before the elections scheduled for May. All of this seems encouraging to me, and we will continue to monitor how the situation evolves, including the formation of a new transition government capable of leading Lebanon to its forthcoming elections.

It is important for the EU that the forthcoming legislative elections in Lebanon are held in accordance with a free and regular electoral process with no interference or foreign influence. The European Union will closely monitor the electoral process and be ready to provide assistance that may, if necessary, include sending an election observation mission."

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This page was last modified on : 17-03-2005

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