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Syria, Lebanon to resume diplomatic ties

July 13, 2008 at 12:42 AM

PARIS, July 13 (UPI) -- Syria and Lebanon will resume diplomatic relations, which were suspended in 2005, French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced Saturday.

Sarkozy met with presidents Michel Suleiman of Lebanon and Bashir Assad of Syria, the BCC reported. They were in Paris for a meeting Sunday aimed at establishing an alliance of countries that ring the Mediterranean.

"I would like to say what a historic step forward it is for France that Syrian President Bashar Assad is determined to open a diplomatic representation in Lebanon, and that Lebanon should open a diplomatic representation in Syria," Sarkozy said.

Lebanon and Syria withdrew ambassadors from each other's capitals and ended diplomatic ties after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in early 2005. Lebanese officials, at least those in the political grouping unfriendly to Syria, accused Syria of involvement.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said the resumption of diplomatic relations is welcome. The spokesman said Syria should stop actions that destabilize the region.

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