Syria, Lebanon urged to set up ties

Syria and Lebanon should establish normal diplomatic ties, including embassies in each other's capitals, UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen has said.

    UN Middle East Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen called for normal ties

    "There is a special relationship between Lebanon and Syria, and I'll say that this relationship will and should be continued on the basis of formal diplomatic relations," Roed-Larsen said in Beirut on Wednesday.

    "It's indeed my hope that shortly there will be establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and that will lead to establishment of embassies."

    Aljazeera's correspondent in Beirut, Bushra Abd al-Samad, said that Larsen had welcomed the cooperation of Lebanese officials whether they were from the opposition or the government.

    Not on agenda

    Abd al-Samad added that Larsen had focused on the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon prior to the end of April 2005 in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution 1559.

    Larsen said ownership of Shibaa
    Farms was no longer in dispute

    He talked about parliamentary elections and the UN call for free and fair election on time.

    Larsen reiterated that Shibaa Farms belonged to Syria as the issue had been settled at the UN since five years.
    When asked about disarming Hizb Allah, Larsen said the issue was not on his agenda as it would be discussed later, Abd al-Samad said.

    Larsen on Wednesday afternoon met Lebanese opposition figures like Walid Jumblatt, Layla Muawad, Nasib Lahud and others, and he will meet Lebanon's president Emile Lahud and speaker of Lebanon's parliament Nabih Birri, according to UN media spokesperson Najib Friji.

    Normal relations

    Answering a question about his expectations about the future of Lebanese-Syrian relations after the full withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, Larsen has said relations should be normal between two neighbouring countries, Abd al-Samad said.

    "It's indeed my hope that shortly there will be establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and that will lead to establishment
    of embassies"

    Terje Roed-Larsen,
    UN envoy to the Middle East

    Syria has not opened a diplomatic mission in Lebanon since the two countries won independence from France in the 1940s.

    Many Lebanese say the establishment of normal diplomatic relations is necessary to show that Damascus has recognised Lebanon's full sovereignty and independence.

    Lebanon was carved from Greater Syria in 1920 after the collapse of the Ottoman empire in World War I.

    Under intense global and Lebanese popular pressure, Syria has pledged to remove its troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon by 30 April, meeting a key requirement of a UN resolution, and ending a 29-year military presence in its neighbour.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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