Hariri: Lebanon, Syria facing major Israeli threats


Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri who is in Damascus on a two day official visit said on Sunday during a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart, Mohammad Naji Ottary that Lebanon is facing Israeli threats .

Lebanon and Syria are facing “major challenges posed by the Israeli aggression on our sovereignty and territories,” he added.

Hariri spoke after the signing of 17 bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding with his Syrian counterpart.

Hariri refused to comment on Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s Friday speech on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), in which the latter described the tribunal is an “Israeli project” designed to target Hezbollah.

Nasrallah’s speech has since drawn harsh criticisms, mainly from March 14 MPs and politicians, with some saying the speech fueled sectarian tensions in country.

“There are investigations going on and the tribunal is doing its job in this respect,” he said. Hariri called on all Lebanese factions to deal calmly with issues related to the STL.

“There is no need for any tension. We, as officials, want Lebanon’s interest. Calm is needed during this stage, no matter what the difficulties are,” Hariri added.

According to observers Syria and Lebanon signed economic agreements on Sunday, signaling improving ties, but did not resolve a border demarcation issue the Lebanese government views as central to its sovereignty.

Trade between Lebanon and Syria fell to $459 million in 2009 from $495 million the previous year. The volumes comprise a quarter of the trade between Syria and neighboring Turkey.

“We want the ties between Syria and Lebanon to form a model for an Arab common market,” Hariri said the news conference .

Hariri, who also met President Bashar al-Assad, 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 Lebanese land and vice-versa.

“The border demarcation issue is not stuck. The two countries have formed committees and are in agreement,” he said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met for the second time today, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri at the People’s Palace, to discuss regional developments and bilateral relations.

The Syrian Prime hosted a lunch in honor of Hariri and the accompanying delegation at the Palais des Nobles in Damascus which was attended by a number of senior Syrian government officials