France, Syria launch ”new era of relations”
French Foreign Minister Bernard Koucher declared in Damascus the launching of a "new era of relations between Syria and Lebanon" saying the two sides would exchange ambassadors before the end of this year. Kouchner, who met Syrian President Bashar Assad after visiting Lebanon, told reporters, "We have observed progress in Lebanon … today we launch a new era of relations between Syria and Lebanon."
According to AFP, Kouchner said he talked with Assad ON Lebanon-related topics, including the "situation in Tripoli … which could become serious and explode." "There also is the problem of Hizbullah … and the problem of statements be they from the Israeli side or the Lebanese side … but I believe that the situation is better in Lebanon," Kouchner conveyed.
According to him, these issues would be discussed by Assad and French President Nicolas Sarkozy early next month. "We were not with Syria in the past, we were keen on the Lebanese People … all that we have spoken of has been achieved, that is why we set up this relation with Syria," the French minister added.
Kouchner said his talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem focused on the "situation in Iraq, Iran and peace in the Middle East." "I congratulate Syria for its talks with Israel in Turkey," He declared.
On his part, the Syrian minister said the indirect peace talks are focused on the thorny issue of how much Syrian territory is under Israeli occupation. Muallem said the two sides were seeking agreement on land Syria controlled before Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the 1967 war.
"We feel that the two sides are serious about solving the lingering issues that are being discussed. Foremost is determination of the June 4, 1967 line," Muallem told reporters after meeting Kouchner.