Hariri calls for 'new ties' in landmark Syria visit

It was Hariri's first trip to Damascus since the 2005 assassination of his father.

Hariri calls for 'new ties' in landmark Syria visit
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Sunday he agreed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on practical steps to open up new horizons in ties between the two Arab neighbours.

It was Hariri's first trip to Damascus since the 2005 assassination of his father, ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri -- a killing that he and his US-backed allies in Beirut accused Syria.

Regional commentators, including Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, have hailed the visit as an ice-breaker and step toward healing decades of turbulent ties between the two neighbours.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said late Saturday that the visit helped make the "atmosphere comfortable" between the two countries, his office said in a statement.

"We want to open new horizons between the two countries," Hariri told a news conference at the Lebanese embassy in Damascus at the end of a two-day visit to Syria.

He said his three rounds of "excellent" talks with the Syrian leader were frank and based on clarity.

Foremost is a plan to demarcate the porous border between the two neighbours, he said.

Hariri said Saudi Arabia played an important role in paving the way for his visit to Syria.

"We want privileged, sincere and honest relations ... in the interest of both countries and both peoples," the 39-year-old premier said.

"We want to build ties with Syria based on positive points," he added, describing his visit during which he had three rounds of private talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a "historic".

But Hariri stressed that he did not discuss with Assad a UN-led inquiry into his father's murder nor the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that has been set up to try the suspected killers.

"The tribunal is doing its work and this is what everybody wishes," he said.

A UN inquiry said it had evidence that Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services at the time were linked to the killing, but no charges have been brought.

Earlier this month, a Syrian court asked 25 prominent Lebanese, including individuals close to Saad Hariri, to appear for questioning over the murder.

Syria dominated its tiny neighbour for nearly three decades until April 2005 when it pulled out its troops from Lebanon under international and regional pressure, two months after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

Lebanon and Syria exchanged embassies over the past year for the first time since both countries gained independence in the 1940s.



Agencies
Last Mod: 21 Aralık 2009, 12:17
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