Syria and Lebanon said Saturday they have agreed to establish diplomatic
relations and open embassies in either country's capital for the first time
since Lebanon's independence in 1943. Lisa Bryant has more for VOA from Paris,
where Syrian and Lebanese leaders met ahead of a Euro-Mediterranean
The announcement that the two
countries would establish full diplomatic ties was made by French President
Nicolas Sarkozy, following four-way talks between the presidents of France,
Syria and Lebanon and the emir of Quatar.
At a press conference at the
Elysee palace, Mr. Sarkozy called the agreement by Syria and Lebanon to
establish embassies "historic." The two countries have not had embassies since
each earned independence, more than 60 years ago. He said certain legal
questions still needed to be resolved.
Mr. Sarkozy also said he had asked
Syria's help in resolving what he called the Iranian problem - referring the
Iran's nuclear program.
Many Western nations suspect Tehran is building a
nuclear bomb, but the Iranian government insists its nuclear program is for
purely peaceful purposes.
Syrian President Assad said he would speak to
the Iranians but asserted there appears to be no evidence Iran's program has
Mr. Assad also said it was important for France and
the European Union to play a role in the Middle East peace process along with
the United States. He has previously invited Paris, and Mr. Sarkozy in
particular, to be a mediator should Israel and Syria begin direct peace
Mr. Assad is among more than 40 heads of state attending a
summit between EU and non-European Mediterranean countries that opens Sunday.
His attendance is seen here as a way of restoring ties with France - which were
severed three years ago - and with other members of the international