U.N. envoy upholds road map

May 10, 2004 at 11:54 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 10 (UPI) -- The U.N. Secretary General's special Middle East envoy, Terje Roed Larsen, said Monday Israel's withdrawal from Gaza should be in line with the road map.

"I came to Lebanon to brief officials on the recent Quartet meeting in New York," Larsen told reporters after talks with Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"The Quartet took a position that an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which we welcome, should be linked to starting a pullout from the West Bank within the framework of the road map," he said.

Larsen, who will travel to Syria Tuesday on the same mission, said the United Nations' position also stresses "final status issues should be resolved between the parties concerned alone."

He was implicitly commenting on Israel's U.S.-backed position denying the Palestinian people's right to return to Israel proper, an issue that is supposed to be discussed in final status negotiations.

Commenting on last week's flare up of tensions on the Lebanon-Israel border between Hezbollah and Israeli troops, Larsen said the U.N. is conducting a thorough investigation into the incident and will not comment until the probe is completed.

"Threats and counter threats are counterproductive and unhelpful," he said.

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