The Syrian government Tuesday returned to the debate over the country's political role in neighboring Lebanon, with its official newspaper saying "Syria is on the side of all Lebanese, without exception."
Daily newspaper Tishrin, weighing into the debate that resurfaced last week over the continuing presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon, said "all problems can be resolved by a fraternal, sincere and responsible dialogue."
The government daily said Syrian-Lebanese relations "are solid and are the object of permanent consultations between the leaders of the two countries."
Last week, Lebanon's Maronite Christian bishops raised a storm by issuing a statement calling for Syria to remove the 35,000 troops it keeps in the country, now that Israel has ended its 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon.
The statement was roundly attacked by Lebanon's top two Muslim leaders and by the president and members of the government, but many of the country's newspapers used it to call for serious dialogue.
Tishrin also pointed the finger at Israel, saying unidentified "observers' had not ruled out the Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service, ordering its agents to "carry out attacks with the aim of sowing doubts about Syrian-Lebanese relations."
It echoed the official Radio Damascus last week, which said Israel wants to "avenge its defeat in south Lebanon and the victory which Lebanon won over Israel" by driving a wedge between Damascus and Beirut.
"Damaging Lebanon's unity, and Syria's support for the country is a strategic priority aim," the radio said.
Tishrin added that "no Arab can fail to recognize the role Syria played in stopping the Zionist plan of division (of Lebanon), nor the sacrifices it has made toward returning calm and stability" to Lebanon.
Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon, and the two countries are linked at all levels by a 1991 treaty of fraternity, cooperation and coordination – DAMASCUS (AFP)
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