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EU enlists Syrian help with Lebanon crisis
EU envoy and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos says following talks with Assad that Damascus agreed to play constructive role in settling conflict by pressing Hizbullah to accept ceasefire
The European Union has enlisted Syria's help to end the fighting in Lebanon as Damascus pledged support to the Lebanese government's plan for a settlement.

 

EU envoy and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said following talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad Thursday, Damascus agreed to play a constructive role in settling the conflict by pressing Hizbullah to accept a ceasefire.

 

"We also agreed on backing the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora as time is ripe for intensifying diplomatic efforts by all parties," Moratinos said.

 

He said Syria backs Siniora's seven-point plan to end the conflict. "Hizbullah's present stance is unanimous with the government, and Premier Siniora represents all Lebanese parties, including Hizbullah.

 

"We received Syria's response to be part of the settlement in this complicated region of the world and not be part of the problems."

 

Reviving 1949 armistice

 

Moratinos said the EU is complicit in US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's quest for a new Middle East "because the present Middle East is plagued with lots of poverty, violence and misunderstanding.

 

"We have reached with the Syrian side common stances, basically that the situation in the Middle East is very dangerous and that hope for the region lies in the participation of all parties in finding a settlement."

 

Syria and Iran are Hizbullah's main foreign backers. Syria's promise to support Siniora is a significant development following more

than a year of strained Lebanese-Syrian relations over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

 

Siniora's plan called for a ceasefire; the return of refugees; the exchange of Lebanese and Israeli prisoners; the need to settle the issue of the disputed Shebaa Farms region; extending the state's control over all national territory; limiting arms possession to state institutions; boosting UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon; and reviving the 1949 armistice agreement between Lebanon and Israel.

 

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