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Jumblatt: Syria ties will be based on suporting resistance.

Byline: Elias Sakr

Summary: BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt stressed Thursday that the strategic foundations of his future relation with Syria will be based on support to the Lebanese resistance and the liberation of Lebanese occupied territories. "I stressed with President Bashar Assad on several principles and we agreed on a political track that starts

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt stressed Thursday that the strategic foundations of his future relation with Syria will be based on support to the Lebanese resistance and the liberation of Lebanese occupied territories.

"I stressed with President Bashar Assad on several principles and we agreed on a political track that starts with support to the resistance in Lebanon, the liberation of the rest of the Lebanese occupied territories in addition to Syrian-Lebanese ties built on mutual blood and sacrifices," he said.

Speaking during a news conference at his residence in Clemenceau, Jumblatt highlighted the Syrian president's keenness to preserve stability in Lebanon while adding that he and Assad agreed "to promote trust through objective communication."

Asked whether his visit to Damascus signaled his realignment alongside March 8 forces, Jumblatt said "the issue was not about moving from one position to another but rather reassurances to Assad concerning pivotal principles starting with support to the resistance."

Following the June 2009 parliamentary elections, Jumblatt announced his withdrawal from the March 14 alliance saying it was driven by necessity and adopted a centrist position in Lebanese politics moving closer to Syria's allies in Lebanon.

Jumblatt added that he had turned over a new page in relations with Damascus and agreed with Assad to look to the future rather than the past.

Since 2009 Jumblatt has performed a ritual of public apologies and reconciliations, paving his return to Damascus last Wednesday, after expressing regrets for his accusation of the Syrian regime of being involved in former Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination in 2005.

Hariri's murder led to the establishment by the Security Council of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in May 2007.

Asked about his position with regard to the STL in case of political accusations against Lebanese parties, Jumblatt said the tribunal was agreed upon by all Lebanese in 2006 during national dialogue talks.

"Later we all have to look for ways to preserve justice in parallel with stability but I cannot handle the issue myself given the role of Hariri's family and other political factors," Jumblatt said.

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday the tribunal's prosecutor's office in Lebanon has questioned 12 Hizbullah members as witnesses while six others are to be questioned later.

Analysts fear accusations of Hizbullah members or the party of taking part in the murder could spark a Shiite-Sunni civil strife.

On another note, Jumblatt said he discussed with Assad the issue of Palestinian refugees' camps in its political and social aspects as well as the border demarcation between both countries starting with unoccupied territories. The issue of border demarcation in the Shebaa Farms, the missing Lebanese in Syria and Palestinian armed groups outside refugee camps remain the center of debate between the Lebanese parliamentary majority and Syria.

While March 14 parties demand that Syria agree to start the demarcation process from the Shebaa Farms to confirm the Farms' Lebanese identity and legitimize their liberation, Damascus argue that the process should start from the northern border given Israeli occupation of the northern part of Shebaa.

As for disarmament of Palestinian groups outside refugee camps with known loyalty to Damascus, all Lebanese factions agreed during national dialogue in 2006 to disarm but practical steps are yet to be taken.

Premier Saad Hariri is expected to tackle the above issues with Assad during a visit to Syria by mid April.

"Regarding the Lebanese-Syrian ties, they should be based on relations between state to state institutions on security, economic and political levels," Jumblatt said.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Apr 2, 2010
Words:660
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