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President of Syria Defends His Nation's Role in Lebanon

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria made a rare, often confrontational foreign policy speech on Saturday, suggesting that the efforts by the United States and France to force his country to release its hold over Lebanon would push the Middle East toward even greater chaos. Speaking at a conference of expatriate Syrians in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Mr. Assad noted that the region had enough troubles already as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raged with no peace efforts in sight and as Iraq grew ever more violent. The efforts by the United States and France to enforce a United Nations resolution passed last month – which demands that Syria completely withdraw from Lebanon, that the Lebanese gain full sovereignty and that all militia groups be disarmed – would serve only to inflame the region further, he said. Full Story

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