President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman announced in Damascus yesterday (13 August) that their two states had agreed to establish diplomatic relations. In Berlin today (14 August), Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a statement welcoming this decision as a major step forward:
"The decision to exchange ambassadors and establish diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon is a significant step towards the establishment of good neighbourly relations between the two countries. It is important that this decision, taken jointly by President Assad and President Suleiman, helps strengthen the stability of Lebanon and the region as a whole.
The normalization of relations between Lebanon and Syria is one of the key developments expected by the international community. The German Government has repeatedly advocated such normalization in its talks with the two sides. I hope that the Lebanese and Syrian Governments will soon agree on further concrete steps, for example on the demarcation of the border."