10/14/2008, 00.00
SYRIA - LEBANON

Assad's decree on diplomatic relations with Beirut

The two countries have never had normal diplomatic relations, because of the "special bond" that Damascus says it has with Beirut. The decision to establish them was made in August by the presidents of Syria and Lebanon.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - A decree has been issued today by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Lebanon. The decree, released by the official news agency SANA, clarifies that the Syrian diplomatic mission will be at the level of the embassy.

In Beirut, an official at the foreign ministry said today that minister Fawzi Salloukh expects to go to Damascus on Wednesday to discuss the details of establishing diplomatic relations.

Over the 60 years of their existence in their current form, Lebanon and Syria have never had formal diplomatic relations, because Damascus has always considered Beirut a territory with which it had "special bonds," in that it was created by the French in 1943 with four provinces taken from the Syrians. In addition to the fact that Syria controlled the country militarily and politically for almost 30 years, until 2005.

The normalization of relations and the recognition of full Lebanese sovereignty have also been requested at the international level. A step in this direction was decided and announced in August, after a meeting in Paris (in the photo) between Assad and Lebanese president Michel Suleiman.

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