Syria to UN: 'Roed-Larsen not welcome'

Syria informed the United Nations that one of its key negotiators trying to defuse the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, would not be welcome in Damascus, Syria's UN ambassador confirmed Wednesday. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the Syrian government also made clear that Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special political adviser, Vijay Nambiar, who is leading the three-member UN team, would be welcome along with UN Mideast envoy Alvaro de Soto. He said Syria "reserved its right" to deal with Roed-Larsen as it wants. Roed-Larsen, who is Annan's top envoy on Syria-Lebanon issues, overstepped his mandate in dealing with implementation of a September 2004 resolution, Ja'afari said. The resolution called for Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon, the Lebanese government's assertion of authority throughout the country, and the disarming and disbanding of all militias, including Hezbollah which still controls southern Lebanon.