Syria, Lebanon declare historic agreement to establish diplomatic ties
Syria and Lebanon agreed in Paris to exchange diplomatic ties for the first time in 64 years of independence from French mandate rule. The historic agreement was announced Saturday evening by presidents Bashar Assad and Michel Suleiman, in a joint press conference with their French and Qatari counterparts, Nicolas Sarkozy and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, respectively.
The agreement, that has to be approved by the constitutional institutions of both Syria and Lebanon, gained immediate welcome from the Arab World and international community. Sarkozy described the move as "historic. It reflects the joint will to develop relations between the two states." However, he said, the move requires "settling some legal issues."
"But what matters is that this is an historic declaration that reflects the will of all parties and the majority of Lebanon's communities."
"This is a major indication that we are pleased it was launched from France, which has strong relations of friendship with all the Lebanese," a smiling Sarkozy said.
The Syrian president conveyed: "Our mission is to support Lebanon in this era." Assad said the election of president Suleiman and the formation of a national unity cabinet in Lebanon are "major accomplishments. But this is not enough." "More support (for Lebanon) is needed so that all (factions) would rest assured that past confrontations would not be repeated," Assad said.
According to Suleiman, the legal and administrative arrangements needed to implement "this agreement would be taken as soon as possible in coordination between the two capitals," Beirut and Damascus.
"We look forward to tackling the topic of demarcating the Lebanese-Syrian borders through the required mechanism based on the brotherly relations between the two sisterly states," Suleiman stated. He said Lebanon is "committed to regaining its full sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms."
In answering a question as to whether Lebanon would go into peace talks with Israel, Suleiman said: "We expect Israel to implement international resolutions, especially U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 that was adopted two years ago and Israel has not pulled out of the Ghajar (village) Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba hills."