Sarkozy determined to help restore Lebanese-Syrian ties

January 6th, 2009 - 6:42 am ICT by IANS  

Beirut, Jan 6 (DPA) French President Nicolas Sarkozy, due to arrive in Beirut on Tuesday, promised to exert more effort to resolve lingering issues between Lebanon and neighbouring Syria.”Lebanon and Syria are now cooperating to restore relations based on trust and mutual respect,” Sarkozy was quoted by Lebanese televisions Monday.

“I am not naive and I realize that there are still several stages that need to be crossed,” he said.

“Be sure that in the future I will show the same level of determination to follow up other commitments made by President Michel Suleiman and (Syrian) President Bashar al-Assad during their summit, particularly the issue of border demarcation between the two countries.”

Lebanon and Syria, for years Lebanon’s power broker, agreed in October to establish diplomatic relations, opening embassies in each others’ capitals for the first time since their independence from colonial rule in 1943.

Syria was forced to end its 30-year military presence in its small neighbour in 2005 shortly after the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri.

“My message to the Lebanese people is very simple. Continue efforts towards dialogue and reconciliation and building a free and democratic Lebanon,” Sarkozy said as he started a four-nation tour of the Middle East Monday.

Sarkozy planned to visit Egypt, the West Bank and Israel Monday. He is set to be in Syria and Lebanon on Tuesday.

He is the first leader of a major power to visit the region since Israel began its military offensive on Gaza on Dec 27.

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