Lebanon News

Syrian PM congratulates Salam on Cabinet formation

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi talks to media in Damascus April 29, 2013, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout

BEIRUT: Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi congratulated Prime Minister Tammam Salam on the formation of his new 24-member government Tuesday, in a rare diplomatic gesture toward Lebanon.

In a letter to Salam, who is widely seen as an independent figure allied with the March 14 coalition, Al-Halqi expressed hope for the development of "sisterly ties between the two countries and peoples" and for the two states to "achieve more security and stability.”

Ties between Lebanon and Syria deteriorated after Lebanese authorities uncovered a terror plot by former Minister Michel Samaha, a close ally to President Bashar Assad, in August of 2012.

Samaha, along with a Syrian general and another Syrian holding the rank of colonel, were indicted for conspiring to assassinate Syrian opposition figures and arms traffickers entering Lebanon and Syria.

The three were also charged with planning terrorist attacks in Lebanon.

Not long after, Assad scoffed at the Baabda Declaration put forward by Sleiman and ratified by all Lebanese parties, saying that “terrorists” were crossing into Syria irrespective of the pact.

Sleiman hit back at the embattled president saying no one had the right to criticize the country’s policies, and has since lashed out at Syria over air raids on Lebanese border towns.

Sleiman has also said that he was waiting for Assad to clarify the Samaha case.

Salam formed a new government on Feb. 15 bringing together rival anti-Assad March 14 and the Hezbollah-lead March 8 groups.





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