Syria Sends First Official To Lebanon In Six Years

Syria sends first official to Lebanon in six years

BEIRUT, (Pakistan Point News - APP -7th nov,2016) : Syria's presidency dispatched an envoy to Lebanon on Monday to congratulate newly-elected President Michel Aoun, the first such official visit in six years. In a statement, Aoun's office said he had received "a message of congratulations on his election as president of the republic from his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad carried by Syria's Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Azzam." Speaking after the meeting, Azzam said Assad's message included his hope for a "new era which we hope will bring good things, stability and security for the brotherly nation of Lebanon.

" The trip is the first by a Syrian official to Lebanon since 2010, when Assad and then-Saudi King Abdullah visited the country in a bid to tamp rising political tensions. It is also the first since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011, with protests against Assad's government. The Syrian conflict has exacerbated existing tensions in Lebanon, whose key political blocs support opposing sides in the war. Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement, which is allied with Aoun, backs Syria's Assad against the rebels fighting him.

But Lebanon's newly-appointed Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who leads the country's other main political bloc, is fiercely opposed to Assad. The political divisions left Lebanon without a president for over two years, until Hariri offered Aoun his surprise endorsement, in turn for being appointed prime minister. Syria's government was quick to congratulate Aoun on his election, though Azzam dismissed questions about whether his trip was meant to signal a fresh page in bilateral ties. "There was not an old page for there to be a new page," he told reporters, saying bilateral ties were continuing on the basis of "the common interests of the two countries, security and stability." Aoun also received Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday, who described the end of the presidential vacuum in the country as "a victory for all Lebanese".