Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

ENCORE!

Haute Couture: the hand-stitched clothing made in Paris that sells for the price of small yachts

Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Netanyahu resists international pressure to stop air strikes on Gaza

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Italy’s Trentin wins seventh stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Disgraced Suarez leaves Liverpool for Barcelona

    Read more

  • In pictures: Chanel, Dior and so much more at the Paris couture shows

    Read more

  • French ‘Civic Service’ eyes massive expansion amid huge demand

    Read more

  • In Pictures: Petrol station hit by Hamas rockets

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    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

Comments

COMMENT(S)