Posted by Joshua on Monday, August 27th, 2007
France is prepared to open up in a "spectacular way" to Syria if it stops meddling in Lebanon, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.
Kouchner stated he hoped Damascus would "not create obstacles to Lebanon's sovereignty" when it holds presidential elections next month. "If Syria does not create obstacles to Lebanon's sovereignty … then France will open up to Damascus in a spectacular way," Kouchner told Le Parisien newspaper.
"But for this to happen, we would need guarantees," he added.
The Lebanese parliament is expected to elect a new president between September 24 and November 24.
In an interview with Newsweek magazine, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who visited Iraq this month, said he told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that al-Maliki has "got to be replaced." Al-Maliki said the Iraqi government would demand an apology.
Syrian-Saudi Tension over Lebanon, Naharnet.
"Syria Attacks Saudi Arabia to Reaffirm Its Control of Lebanon," writes Huda al Husseini, a prominent Lebanese writer, in al-Sharq al-Awsat.
BEIRUT — Around 100 people led by a Sunni cleric rallied outside the Saudi embassy in Beirut Sunday to voice support for ambassador Abdel Aziz Khoja who left the country in the face of death threats.
Waving Lebanese and Saudi flags, the demonstrators carried placards hailing the role of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a key financier of Lebanon and a staunch supporter of the beleaguered Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.
"We came to express our support for the policy of Saudi Arabia, and condemn those who have dared to hit out against the kingdom," said rally organizer Sheikh Hisham Khalifeh, head of a Sunni clerical organization.
The demonstration came after the ambassador revealed in an interview with the Saudi-owned daily Asharq Al Awsat that he had left the country August 17 after being threatened with death.
"There were threats against the Saudi embassy and against my person," he told the London-based paper.
A member of Saudi Arabia's advisory Shura Council pointed the finger at Syria, claiming that proxies of Damascus in Lebanon could be behind the alleged threats.
"Syria is not blameless with regard to these threats. Syria's agents in Lebanon … could be behind these threats," Mohammad Al Zulfa said.
Khoja had been involved in efforts to broker an end to the rift with pro-Syrian factions that has paralyzed Siniora's legislative agenda.
Early last week, he held talks with the pro-Syrian speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, who has refused to recognise the Siniora government's legitimacy since six pro-Syrian ministers quit last November.
Syria elects municipal councilors, UPI, Aug. 26, 2007
Syrians went to the polls Sunday to elect nearly 10,000 municipal councilors across the country.
The two days of voting, to end Monday afternoon, capped low-key campaigning between independent candidates and candidates from the National Progressive Front, or NPF, the ruling coalition, reported Alalam Satellite TV.
NPF candidates won 172 of the 250 seats in Parliament in an April election. Independents won the remaining 78 seats.
The NPF is headed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, 41, the son of the late President Hafez al-Assad.
Al-Assad was re-elected president in May for a second seven-year term in a referendum that saw him take more than 97 percent of the vote