Russia hails diplomatic ties between Syria, Lebanon

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Moscow, Oct 16 (UNI) Russia has welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon.

''We hail the move, which, undoubtedly, will benefit neighbourly and equal relations between the two people and states and will improve the atmosphere in inter-Arabian relations and in the West Asia on the whole,'' the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement today.

Lebanon and Syria formally established diplomatic ties for the first time in their modern history yesterday, the formal decision for which was taken on August 13, during an official visit by the Lebanese President to Damascus.

Lebanon became an independent state in 1943, two years before Syria.

Following the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005, Syria gave in to international pressure and pulled its troops out of Lebanon, after having a military presence in the neighbouring state for almost three decades.

In addition to Hariri's death, anti-Syrian factions in Lebanon have blamed Damascus for a series of attacks targeting lawmakers and politicians opposed to Syria since 2005.

Syria has denied the allegations.

Last Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a decree on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Lebanon and the opening of an embassy in Beirut.

UNI XC PD HS1633

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