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Syrian president meets French parliamentary delegation on Mideast, ties
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08:15, January 10, 2008

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met a French parliamentary delegation on Wednesday over the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, the official SANA news agency reported.

Assad and the delegation, headed by Chairman of the French-Syrian Friendship Association at the French National Assembly Geread Bapt, also discussed bilateral ties between the two countries and underlined the importance of installing a mechanism to activate the ties in all domains.

Before the meeting, Bapt told reporters that the Syrian-French ties dated back to ancient times, saying that they are based on joint political and economic interests.

"In spite of some present temporary differences between Syria and France, the relations between the two states will not be affected and contacts will be continued," Bapt said.

Jean Luc Reitzer, a member of the French parliament and the delegation, affirmed the significant role played by Syria in the region, expressing the hope that the Syrian-French ties would be improved in a way that reflects the desire of French parliamentary members.

It was the second time that Bapt visited Syria. He came to Damascus in 2003 along with a French parliamentary delegation.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem announced a week ago that his country has decided to suspend contacts with Paris on the Lebanese political crisis, three days after a similar comment from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Lebanon has been without a president since Nov. 23 when former President Emile Lahoud stepped down without a successor and the sharply divided Lebanese parliament has delayed the elections for11 times.

Syria has been accused of meddling in the internal affairs of Lebanon, which Syria has categorically denied.

France has been leading efforts to mediate a settlement between the Western-backed governing coalition and the opposition, led by groups with close ties to Damascus.

Source:Xinhua



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