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Middle East: UN envoy meets with Syrian President

Middle East: UN envoy meets with Syrian President

Terje Roed-Larsen
The senior United Nations envoy for the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad today for talks on the situation in the region, particularly the stalled peace process.

Speaking to reporters in Damascus a day after holding similar talks with senior officials in Lebanon, Mr. Roed-Larsen said the Israeli plan to withdraw from Gaza must take place in such a manner that it can be defined as the end of the occupation of Gaza.

"It has to be clean and full," he stressed, adding that such a pullback must be linked to similar withdrawals from the West Bank and within the framework of the Road Map put forward by the so-called Quartet - UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States. That plan calls for a series of parallel and reciprocal steps to be taken the by the Israelis and Palestinians, leadings to two states living side-by-side in peace by 2005.

Mr. Roed-Larsen also said any solution to the Middle East conflict has to take place within the broader framework of a comprehensive solution encompassing the Lebanese and Syrian tracks, and that lasting peace in the region could not be achieved without such an agreement.