Syrian President Meets with Lebanon’s Hariri, Jumblatt
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad on Tuesday held separate meetings in Damascus with Lebanon's prime minister, and anti-Syrian Lebanese MP Walid Jumblatt, said reports.
The Syrian official news agency (SANA) said that the meetings dealt with issues of concern, with no further details disclosed. However, both men reportedly have differences to settle with Damascus.
The Hariri-owned Mustakbal newspaper has slammed Hizbollah for an attack on an Israeli post in the disputed Shabaa farms in April that resulted in the death of an Israeli soldier, and later in an retaliatory raid on a Syrian post.
For his part, Jumblatt has publicly repeated his call for the withdrawal of the 35,000 Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon and criticized Syrian influence in his country.
He was accordingly banned from entering Syria, and attacked by Syria's defense chief, Mustafa Tlass.
Tlass recently launched a strong verbal attack on Jumblatt, a Druze leader and chief of the Socialist Progressive Party, and Lebanon's Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir. The attack sparked a barrage of protests from Lebanese Christian.
In a rare interview published in the Lebanese daily Ad Diyar, Tlass claimed that "Sfeir had sought the intervention of Pope John Paul II to persuade Israel in 1983 to defend Lebanon's Christians during battles with Druze militiamen in the Chouf."
Menachem Begin, then prime minister of Israel, had allegedly replied that Israeli blood would not be shed for any cause other than the Jewish one.
In the Ad Diyar interview, Tlass dismissed Sfeir's criticism of Syria's interference in Lebanese political life.
"This is [Sfeir's] opinion and we have good relations with the Lebanese state and Lebanon," he said. "We have grown up and matured and we do not need advice from anybody."
The veteran Syrian minister also had harsh words for the Druze leader.
"Let him (Jumblatt) criticize, we are not going to answer him and we do not listen to him ... we are the ones who invented him," Tlass said - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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