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Trade with Lebanon crucial: Syrian prime minister.

Summary: In a meeting in Damascus with Lebanese Agriculture Minister Hasan Lakkis

BEIRUT: In a meeting in Damascus with Lebanese Agriculture Minister Hasan Lakkis, Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis emphasized the importance of cross-border trade between his country and Lebanon, Syrian state news agency SANA reported. The Syrian premier said existing agreements between the two countries should be revised, or even replaced with new ones, to promote bilateral cooperation and promote the mutual exchange of agricultural products.

According to SANA, Lakkis told reporters that the meeting had been fruitful, and that committees within the Syrian and Lebanese Agriculture Ministries have been tasked with studying ways to boost cooperation.

The Amal Movement minister had arrived in Damascus earlier in the day, calling for ties between the two countries to be strengthened.

"We're honored to emphasize the historic relationship between Lebanon and Syria on all levels, especially in the agriculture sector," Lakkis told reporters after another meeting, with his Syrian counterpart, Ahmad al-Qadri.

"We have agreements between Lebanon and Syria that were deactivated because of the war. We need to reactivate and develop them," Lakkis said, stressing his support for re-establishing full, direct contact with Syria.

Lakkis said his meetings in Syria would pave the way for new bilateral agreements, while Qadri said his ministry had a vision for enhancing agricultural ties with Lebanon.

Although the countries officially have diplomatic ties, Lebanese political parties are divided over whether their country should fully normalize ties with the Syrian government.

On the one hand, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whom the Syrian government has blacklisted, and his Future Movement, along with the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party, vehemently reject direct ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime until a political solution to the yearslong conflict there is reached.

Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement, on the other hand, support direct talks with the Syrian side as a means of facilitating the return of Syrian refugees and boosting Lebanon's economy.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Apr 10, 2019
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