Syria called on Saudi Arabia on Thursday to exercise its influence on Lebanon's pro-Western governing coalition to solve the country's political crisis, which has left it without a president since November.
Beirut's government, which is backed by countries including the United States and Saudi Arabia, has been locked in a power struggle since November 2006 with an opposition alliance backed by Syria and led by Hezbollah.
"The effort has to come from all Arab parties with friendships and influence in Lebanon. I point especially to Saudi Arabia which wields a big influence on the (ruling) majority," Moualem said.
"Syria wants a stable, sovereign Lebanon. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. We are the first to be hurt from a worsening situation in Lebanon and we will be the first to benefit from stability," Moualem said.
Syria supports demands by the Hezbollah-led opposition for veto power in the cabinet while Saudi Arabia supports the parliamentary majority led by billionaire politician Saad al-Hariri, who has resisted Hezbollah's demands.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal made a secret visit to Damascus in late January that failed to reach a deal on Lebanon. Diplomats said Faisal then urged tough action against Syria during a tour of the United States and Europe in February.
Saudi Arabia is a main ally of the pro-Western Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which said it would also boycott the meeting because of allegedly Syria's role in blocking the election of a new Lebanese president.
In addition to addressing the deadlock in Lebanon, the summit is expected to focus also on Iraq and the fate of an Arab peace initiative toward Israel.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, attending the foreign ministers' meeting in Damascus, said Iraq would ask Arab states to help achieve security and back its elected government.
Last Mod: 28 Mart 2008, 07:59