Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Beirut following a two- day official visit to Damascus.
Hariri met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Monday for the third time since his arrival in Syria the two men later expressed their satisfaction with steps taken to enhance bilateral relations, the official Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported on Monday.
They affirmed their determination to proceed with steps to upgrade bilateral relations to the level that can fulfill the aims of both sides, SANA said.
The report said Assad and Hariri discussed during their third meeting on Monday ways to implement signed bilateral agreements in order “to establish a network of interests beneficial to both peoples and countries.”
An-Nahar newspaper on Monday said the prime minister’s visit “bore a significant meaning,” given that Hariri extended his stay and was received for a second time by Assad “in a meeting that likely tackled hot political issues.”
According to pro Syrian newspaper As-Safir the Hariri-Assad evening meeting addressed political issues in depth, particularly those related to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah regarding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Lebanon and Syria signed 17 bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding on Sunday .
The agreements signed covered justice, tourism, education agriculture, drug control cooperation and consumer protection.
Hariri also met on Sunday with his Syrian counterpart Mohammed Naji Otry.
“We will continue to take action to control the borders so as to combat trafficking and all illegal acts,” Hariri told a joint press conference after talks with Assad and Otry.
Hariri said his relations with Assad were “in the interest of both countries… which face a common enemy.”
“During the course of our meetings, a friendly relationship has developed between the Syrian president and myself, something which strengthens the interest of Lebanese and Syrian citizens,” Hariri said.
Lebanese Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar said Monday that Syria does not recognize the existence of missing Lebanese in Syrian jails.
He was commenting on a report published Monday by the daily Al-Liwaa in which it said Syria has admitted it was holding 800 missing Lebanese.
Najjar said the issue was tackled during talks on Sunday between Syria and the Lebanese delegation that was headed by PM Saad Hariri.
“Reports that the Syrian side admitted the existence of a number of Lebanese detainees are not true,” Najjar told Future News television channel.
The Lebanese delegation did not resolve the border demarcation , an issue the Lebanese government views as central to its sovereignty.
Hariri said a committee set up by the two countries to demarcate the border “has to begin its work and finish it as soon as possible.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said border demarcation must not cause what he termed social suffering by Syrian families living on the Lebanese side of the borders. According to observers this is a new demand by the Syrian government.
Lebanese Minister of Public works Ghazi Aridi told Future TV: Harir’s visit to Syria is in the national interest of Lebanon and Syria> We are hopeful that the committees formed will carry out their work and in particular the committee that is charged with border demarcation which hope it will achieve some concrete results
Syria never officially recognized Lebanon as an independent nation, nor had full diplomatic relations with Lebanon, until 2009, when the two nations opened embassies in each other’s capitals and exchanged ambassadors. Since Lebanon won its independence from France in 1943, Syria had insisted that Lebanon remained part of greater Syria.
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