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Lebanon to Establish Relations with Syria
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Lebanese political leaders have agreed to normalize relations with Syria, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said in Beirut on Tuesday.

Berri told reporters after the second session of a national dialogue aimed at resolving Lebanon's domestic differences on key issues such as the ties with Syria and the disputed Shebaa Farms.

Berri said participants at the meeting agreed that Lebanon should establish diplomatic relations with Syria and set up embassies in each other's territories at an early date, on the basis of mutual trust and respect.

Relations between the two countries have worsened since former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was murdered in a car bombing in February 2005, which sparked massive anti-Syria protests across Lebanon.

Participants also reached consensus that the disputed Shebaa Farms, now occupied by Israel, is part of Lebanon, and that the government should take actions to have its status confirmed, Berrisaid.

The Shebaa Farms lie at the convergence of the Lebanese-Syrian-Israeli borders and remains under Israeli control although it withdrew troops from Lebanon in May 2000.

Berri, the organizer of the national dialogue which brought together 14 leading pro- and anti-Syrian politicians, said that the third session of the dialogue has been adjourned till March 22.

At the first session starting on March 2, participants agreed to carry out a thorough investigation into the assassination of Hariri and set up an international court to try the murderers.

(Xinhua News Agency March 15, 2006)

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