First Syrian minister visits France in 4 years

Relations improved last month after the political stalemate in Beirut was finally broken and French President Sarkozy called his Syrian counterpart Al-Assad to talk about Lebanon and peace negotiations with Israel.

First Syrian minister visits France in 4 years
A Syrian cabinet member arrived in Paris on Tuesday for the first such ministerial visit to France in over four years, marking a further thaw in relations between the two countries.

Syrian Culture Minister Riad Agha was due to meet his French counterpart Christine Albanel during the trip which followed the recent easing of political tensions in Lebanon that Paris said had been partly stoked by Damascus.

"This visit comes in the framework of a new page we hope is opening, and being written, in French-Syrian relations, to the extent that recent positive developments continue," foreign ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani told reporters.

A foreign ministry official said this was Syria's first ministerial-level visit to France since March 2004.

Paris suspended diplomatic contacts with Damascus last year, accusing the government of blocking presidential elections in neighbouring Lebanon.

But relations improved last month after the political stalemate in Beirut was finally broken and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al-Assad to talk about Lebanon and peace negotiations with Israel.

Syria dominated Lebanon until 2005 when the assassination of statesman Rafik al-Hariri triggered international pressure that forced Damascus to withdraw troops from its neighbour.

France has 1,600 troops in Lebanon as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force based in the country's South.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Haziran 2008, 11:27
YORUM EKLE