Syria: U.S., France foil Lebanon agreement
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday accused Washington of "blocking a Syrian-French attempt" to settle the ongoing political crisis in Lebanon and slammed Paris for not rejecting the American approach.
Talking to a group of reporters in Damascus on the Lebanon situation, Muallem also expressed "regret because the French did not commit to distancing themselves from the American role." "Unfortunately, the French did not show a commitment to distancing themselves from the American role that blocked the Syrian-French attempt to reach a solution," Muallem said.
However, the Syrian minister said Syrian-French "contacts regarding Lebanon persist."
According to AFP, he claimed that an agreement had been reached between Paris and Damascus on a "declaration of principles that includes the election of a consensus president who is Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman, the formation of a national unity government and amending the election law."
Additionally, Muallem attacked the recent visit in Lebanon by U.S. Undersecretary of State David Welch, saying Washington "is not for consensus among the Lebanese, but wants a conqueror and a vanquished. "Washington wants the majority to monopolize the decision-making in Lebanon," he charged.
"We believe that forming a national unity government is as important as electing a new president because it would lead to activating all constitutional institutions, end the sit-in and pave the way for a thorough national dialogue," Muallem said in echoing a call by the Hizbullah-led opposition for agreement on a "basket" of conditions prior to facilitating Suleiman's election.
"Syria plays a constructive role and does not interfere," Muallem claimed.