Lebanese and Syrian premiers vow to improve ties

Lebanese and Syrian premiers vow to improve ties
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Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a member of the anti-Syrian coalition dominating the new parliament, has held talks in Damascus.

On his first official visit, Siniora met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Prime Minister Naji al-Otari. The two premiers promised to work on resolving a host of issues, including expatriate workers and missing people in each other’s territory. In an apparent reference to anti-Syrian politicians, Otari said: “Anyone who bargains on breaking Syrian-Lebanese ties will lose.” Siniora raised the issue of Syria’s tough new border controls, which have left hundreds of Lebanese lorries stranded. Damascus says the curbs were needed after customs officials found explosives on a truck coming from Lebanon. Beirut sees the measures as retaliation for an anti-Syrian backlash following the killing of Rafik al-Hariri in February. Many Lebanese blamed Syrian agents for the car bombing that killed the former premier, and demanded the 14,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon be sent home. Damascus ended its 29-year military presence in April.
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