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Syrian president highlights dialogue as only way to solve conflicts
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08:57, August 26, 2008

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlined on Monday the importance of adopting dialogue and diplomacy as the only way to solve conflicts, the official SANA news agency reported.

Assad made the remarks while meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, stressing that ending the Israeli occupation of the Arab lands is the guarantee for achieving permanent peace and security in the Middle East.

The two sides discussed the situation in the Middle East and Caucasus as well as the dangers that surround the aspired peace in both regions, SANA said.

For his part, Kouchner said that France, as rotating head of the European Union, wants Europe to play its role and assume responsibly in the Middle East.

Later, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem held a separate meeting with Kouchner on the scheduled visit of French President Sarkozy to Syria early next month.

Kouchner, who just wrapped up a visit to neighboring Lebanon, is the first senior French official to visit Syria in three years due to strained relations between the two countries following the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in 2005. Damascus was accused of being involved in the killing, but it denied any role.

His visit came after Syria and Lebanon announced earlier this month that they would establish diplomatic ties and demarcate their border during a visit here by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

It also came one day following Syria appointed Lamia Shakkour as its ambassador to France on Sunday, a post that was vacant for two years also because of the tense ties between Syria and France.


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