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EU plans 'roadmap' corollary for Lebanon and Syria

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

LONDON The European Union is drafting a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and Syria.

EU officials said several European leaders have agreed to an effort to draft a so-called roadmap for an Israeli withdrawal from territory claimed by Lebanon and Syria. They said the withdrawal would be determined in a timetable that would also include a cessation of war and eventual diplomatic relations.

In the 1967 war, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria. Lebanon asserts that Israel has also occupied a sliver of land along the border of the two countries.

The EU effort is meant to work in parallel with the roadmap for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. The EU is part of a group that includes the United States, United Nations and Russia that has drafted a plan for an interim Palestinian state by the end of the year.

Officials said the EU has concluded that a similar effort for an Israeli withdrawal timetable is required for Lebanon and Syria for them to join Middle East peace efforts. They said the proposal is being promoted by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

"I believe that Mr. Solana, for Europe, is reflecting on the elaboration of a roadmap for Syria and Lebanon," French President Jacques Chirac said during the G-8 summit of industrialized nations on Monday. "It is evident that the roadmap of the Quartet hardly concerns Syria and Lebanon."

Chirac raised the issue of a peace initiative with Lebanon and Syria during his meeting with U.S. President George Bush on Monday. Officials said Bush did not express any commitment to the plan.

Officials said an EU roadmap for Lebanon and Syria would result in greater input by France, regarded as an ally of both countries.

Solana is expected to complete a draft of roadmap for Lebanon and Syria within the next few weeks. At that point, officials said, he is expected to submit the plan to the 15 EU member states.

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