Middle East Online – 19 July 2010
DAMASCUS – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for closer ties with Syria on Sunday, state media said, as he made his third visit since taking office to a country he once accused of being behind his father’s assassination.
Hariri and his counterpart Mohammad Naji Otri examined “fraternal relations and the common will of the two countries to develop them,” the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
Hariri and Otri also affirmed their countries’ “commitment to reinforce relations”, SANA said.
Several economic agreements were due to be signed during the visit, in which Hariri was also to meet President Bashar al-Assad.
Hariri, who had accused Syria of being behind the 2005 assassination of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, is on his third visit to Damascus.
During Hariri’s visit last December, the first since his father’s assassination, he had expressed his desire for “privileged, sincere and honest relations… in the interest of both countries and both peoples.”
“We want to build relations with Syria on the positive things,” such as the opening of embassies and exchange of ambassadors, Hariri said during that visit.
Hariri and his political allies, backed by the West and Saudi Arabia, won a majority of seats in parliament in June 2009, edging out an alliance led by the Syrian-backed Shiite Hezbollah.
The two blocs now share power in a government of national unity.