Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Air Algerie investigation continues

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

  • Kerry, Ban announce 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

    Read more

  • 24 killed¸ 271 injured in South Taiwan gas blast

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

Syria, Lebanon agree on starting diplomatic ties

Latest update : 2008-08-14

During an historic meeting in Damascus between Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the two decided to establish ambassadorial relations for the first time since independence in the 1940s.

During a landmark visit to Syria Wednesday, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, agreed to establish diplomatic relations between their countries at an ambassadorial level.

 

The agreement would mark the first time the two nations have full-fledged embassies in each other's countries since Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943 and Syria in 1945.

 

Speaking to reporters in the Syrian capital of Damascus Wednesday, an adviser to the Syrian president said the two heads of state had “instructed their foreign ministers to take the necessary steps in this regard, starting from today.”

 

After three turbulent bilateral years following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, Sleiman’s visit has been hailed as a landmark trip by the Arab press. Many Lebanese blame Syria for their popular leader’s killing, a claim Damascus denies

 

‘Syria will listen carefully’

 

Great hope surrounds the meeting on both sides; the Syrian government newspaper Ath-Thawra said: "Syria will listen carefully to Michel Sleiman. There will be a dialogue capable of solving all pending issues."

 

Diplomatic relations, which sharply deteriorated after Hariri’s murder, top the agenda during Sleiman’s visit.

 

Sleiman and Assad will seek to redefine borders, treaties and economic agreements struck when Syria dominated the Lebanese political scene. “Sleiman will ask Syria to reconsider the economic or diplomatic agreements which privilege the latter,” said Faten Hazimee, FRANCE 24’s special correspondent in Damascus.

 

Redefining roles for existing institutions

 

The Lebanese and Syrian leaders are also slated to discuss the fate of the Lebanese-Syrian higher council, which coordinates relations between the two neighbours.

 

“Syria has always used the council as an excuse to avoid normalising diplomatic relations,” said Hazimee, adding that the council had no real power in itself.

 

The Lebanese parliamentary majority wants the council to be scrapped. However, the council's secretary general, Nasri Khouri, said the establishment of embassies did not spell the end of the coordination body. "There will be coordination between the two countries' embassies and the council," he told the AFP news service.

 

A test visit for Syria

 

The agenda of the two-day visit also features prickly issues such as the Lebanese detainees in Syria and the future of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms, diplomatic sources told the AFP.

 

“This is a test visit for Syria to see if it will respect commitments taken during meetings with Sarkozy and the Qatari emir,” said Hazimee.

 

The two leaders initially agreed to establish diplomatic ties during the first Union for the Mediterranean summit hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris last month.

 

Following a deadly round of violence between Hezbollah and pro-Lebanese government factions in May, that threatened to plunge the tiny, multi-confessional country into civil war, the pro- and anti-Syrian camps in Lebanon struck a deal in Doha, Qatar, to overcome the political deadlock, paving the way for the formation of a national unity government under Sleiman’s leadership.


 

Date created : 2008-08-13

COMMENT(S)