Photo: AP
Jumblatt. Warm welcome
Photo: AP
Assad. Apology accepted
Photo: Reuters
Assad, Jumblatt discuss 'importance of resistance'
Lebanese Druze leader, considered one of Syrian president's strongest critics, warmly welcomed in Damascus after abandoning anti-Syrian camp

Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt met Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar Assad in a summit essentially completing Jumblatt's political turnover. The Druze leader, who used to be one of the Syrian president's strongest critics, recently reconciled with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.


Official Syrian news agency SANA reported that Jumblatt praised Assad's stand towards Lebanon and his "commitment to its security and stability". The Druze leader commended the Syrian president for his efforts to tighten the relations and cooperation between the two countries.


During the meeting, the two discussed what was defined as "the importance of the 'resistance' against Israel's plans to damage the entire Arab region."


Jumblatt was only informed about the meeting on Tuesday evening, but made his way to the Syrian capital early Wednesday morning, and received a warm welcome at the presidential palace. A Lebanese television network reported that two additional Druze officials, including Public Works Minister Ghazi al-Aridi, were also present in the meeting.


Reconciliation with 'monkey' 

Assad and his late father, former Syrian President Hafez Assad, have subject to Jumblatt's verbal attacks in the past few years. The Druze leader gave Assad a series of creative names, including "monkey", "snake", "arch murderer", "mafia head" and "half a man".


Recently, however, he changed his political opinions, publicly abandoned the anti-Syrian camp and began appealing to Damascus and to Shiite group Hezbollah.

Damascus meeting (Photo: AP)


Following his decision to move to the pro-Syrian camp, Jumblatt appeared on al-Jazeera television, said that his earlier statements were "improper" and called for a new page in relations between Syria and Lebanon.


"These comments were improper, unfamiliar and unsuited to political ethics," Jumblatt said in a live interview. "I said, at a moment of anger, what is improper and illogical against President Bashar Assad. It was a moment of ultimate internal tension and division in Lebanon."


He also used the opportunity to thank Nasrallah and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who heads the Shiite Amal party, for "all they have done on this matter."


Nasrallah is the person who informed Jumblatt that the Syrian president had accepted his apology and was willing to welcome him in Damascus. Hezbollah said in a statement issued about two weeks ago that Nasrallah informed Jumblatt that the Syrian leadership would "overlook what happened in the previous stage and would open a new page".


Following the positive response he received from Nasrallah, Jumblatt gave an interview to Hebzollah's al-Manar television station and declared that he had "a lot to say to President Assad when I meet him."


פרסום ראשון: 03.31.10, 13:17
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