Assad: Lebanon should find compromise president without foreign interference
Syria's leader told French envoys on Sunday it was important that Lebanese be encouraged to find a compromise head of state and were allowed to hold elections without foreign interference, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said.
According to SANA, Assad spoke with Claude Gueant, President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief of staff, and Jean-David Levitte, his chief international adviser. It was the highest-level visit by French officials to Syria in more than two years.
The foreign ministers of France and Syria, Bernard Kouchner and Walid al-Moallem, discussed Lebanon on the margins of last week's Iraq conference. The Syrian side said they agreed that Lebanese should elect a "consensus president" without any foreign interference and according to constitutional rules.
Despite marathon discussions between pro-government and opposition leaders in the parliament, the two groups have made no headway in electing a new president. SANA said Assad and the envoys shared "identical" points of view "that the Lebanese elect their next president freely and without any foreign inference."
In Paris, a statement from Sarkozy's spokesman, cited by the AP, said the meeting with Assad "was within the framework of the efforts France has been making for several months to encourage the search for a solution to the crisis Lebanon is currently going through."
Lebanon's parliament is scheduled to make another attempt to elect a president on Nov. 12.