(AFP) – Jun 15, 2010
DAMASCUS — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his visiting Lebanese counterpart, Michel Sleiman, called on Tuesday for steps to be taken toward fixing their countries' common border as soon as possible, the official SANA news agency reported.
The two leaders "spoke of the common land and maritime borders" and agreed to call on technical committees to "continue to assemble information and data with a view to proceeding toward a delimitation and demarcation of the borders as soon as possible," SANA said.
Syrie and Lebanon only established formal diplomatic relations in October 2008, more than 60 years after independence from a French mandate granted by the League of Nations.
Assad and Sleiman had already announced in August of that year the creation of joint committees to work on the border question.
One disputed bit of territory is known as the Shebaa Farms. This small enclave was captured by Israel from Syrian during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, but Lebanon now claims it with the approval of Damascus.
Turning to other bilateral issues, the two presidents underlined the need to "overcome everything that is an obstacle to that."
Syrian troops entered Lebanon during its 1975-90 civil war and remained there afterwards, with Damascus exercising effective political control of the country.
The troops were withdrawn in 2005 after the assassination of ex-Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. Syria was widely blamed for that still-unsolved killing, but has vehemently denied any involvement.
Assad and Sleiman also reviewed "the dangerous developments in the Middle East and the importance of coordinating their positions in the face of Israeli threats," SANA said.
In particular, they called for Arab and Islamic countries to adopt a "firm stance to break the unjust (Israeli) blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip."
They also called for the "opening of an international inquest to sanction those responsible for the Israeli aggression against the Gaza aid flotilla."
That was a reference to an attack by Israeli naval commandos on ships attempting to break the blockade, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
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