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Lebanon's Pro-Syrian President Opens Talks on New Government


Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud is holding talks with parliamentary deputies to form a new government, following last week's resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karami's cabinet.

Buoyed by a massive pro-Syrian rally in Beirut Tuesday, the president began talks that analysts say are likely to preserve Syria's political grip in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Syrian troops are continuing to re-deploy from coastal and central Lebanon to areas near the Syrian border.

Syria began the pullback Tuesday under intense diplomatic pressure from the United States, the European Union and several Arab governments. Syria's ambassador to the United States Imad Moustapha says all Syrian troops will return home within two to three months.

President Bush has demanded that all Syrian forces and intelligence personnel leave the country before Lebanon holds parliamentary elections in May.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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