Syria says too early for diplomatic ties with Lebanon

Daily Star Egypt Staff
2 Min Read

CAIRO: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Thursday it was too early to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon, despite a UN Security Council call for the countries fraught relations to be improved. Any step of this nature requires the appropriate atmosphere to be prevailing between the two countries, Muallem told reporters after meeting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and his President Hosni Mubarak. Had there been embassies in a context of negative relations, then the ambassadors would be recalled or ties broken, Muallem explained. There is no problem concerning the principle of establishing formal diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon. But we need to find the appropriate moment, he said. The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution last month strongly encouraging Syria to establish diplomatic ties with the country it occupied and dominated for three decades. The resolution urged Damascus to respond positively to Lebanon s request to delineate their common border, especially in those areas where the border is uncertain and to establish full diplomatic relations and representation. But Muallem explained that what was holding Syria back was the assertion by members of the Lebanese cabinet that Damascus was behind former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri s assassination in February 2005. The main point of disagreement is with some members of the Lebanese government who have pre-empted the results of the investigation and accused Syria of assassinating Rafiq Hariri, he said. He described this as an unfair media campaign against Assad s regime and added: This situation calls for an improvement of the atmosphere between the two countries. Preliminary reports from an ongoing UN probe into Hariri s assassination suggested top-level Syrian involvement. Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in the aftermath of the killing, ending 29 years of occupation. AFP

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