Egypt has thrown its weight behind calls for Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has arrived on a surprise visit to Damascus for talks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. International demands for Syria to pull out of Lebanon have intensified since the killing of Syria’s former prime minister and opposition leader last month.
Damascus has promised to give the UN a full timetable for the withdrawal of its 14,000 troops from Lebanon. Beirut says the first stage of the pullout will be complete in the next few weeks – more than 4,000 soldiers returned to Syria last week and 2,000 more are currently redeploying to the eastern Bekaa Valley. It is also being reported military intelligence agents have already left two cities in the north, and are vacating an office in Beirut.The opposition continues to demonstrate demanding the resignation of the pro-Syrian government. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Beirut yesterday in the biggest rally since the crisis erupted. For Lebanon’s pro-Syrian prime minister-designate Omar Karami, the gruelling task continues to try to form a government of national unity to lead Lebanon to a general election in May.