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Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 18:53 UK

Arab press hails Syria-Lebanon ties

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (R) and his Lebanese counterpart Fawzi Salukh (L) sign the joint statement

Arabic newspapers largely welcomed the establishment of diplomatic ties between Syria and Lebanon as an important development in Middle Eastern relations.

Lebanese commentators sounded a note of caution, urging the Syrian government to back up its statements with corresponding actions. Voices in the Syrian press hailed the decree as a demonstration of Arab unity, and expressed the hope that the agreement would put an end to foreign "interference".

Both views had support elsewhere in the Middle East's media, though the agreement failed to dominate a news agenda focused on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the global financial crisis.

In the UK-based Arabic press, both Al-Arab al-Alamiyah (pro-Libyan) and Al-Hayat (Saudi-owned) newspapers described Syrian-Lebanese relations as entering a "new era".

EDITORIAL IN SYRIA'S STATE-OWNED AL-THAWRAH

It is an illusion that the external powers looking out for their interests in our Arab body will determine the means of defending ourselves with transparency, innocence and objectivity. Lebanese sovereignty, the protection of its borders, the freedom of its people or the challenge of terrorism mean nothing to them. Diplomatic relations and demarcation of borders come at the appropriate time. Will then this foreign interference stop?

EDITORIAL IN SYRIA'S STATE-OWNED TISHRIN

With Decree no. 358, Syria and Lebanon establish diplomatic relations for the first time in history. The challenges facing Syria are the same ones facing Lebanon and Arabs in general. This is why the Damascus-Beirut road should always be open.

SATI-NUR-AL-DIN IN LEBANON'S INDEPENDENT, LEFTIST AL-SAFIR

The decree is in the interest of both countries in the long run. It is a step in the right direction, out of the whirlpool of suspicions and concerns towards transparency and the cold recognition of abstract interests. Any disturbance of these interests would open the door to a torrent of interferences, as was the case over the past three years in Lebanon.

FU'AD DA'BUL IN LEBANON'S MODERATE AL-ANWAR

The decree passed by Syrian President Bashar al-Asad for establishing diplomatic relations with Lebanon is a historic, important decision, but this step remains a goodwill declaration. What happened, however, can be regarded as important provided that intentions are accompanied by actions.

EDITORIAL IN SAUDI ARABIA'S PRO-GOVERNMENT AL-WATAN

President Bashar al-Asad's decision to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon is a key change in Damascus policy towards Lebanon. If Damascus is sincere, some steps should be taken to reassure the Lebanese about their future.

EDITORIAL IN QATAR'S PRO-GOVERNMENT AL-WATAN

Syrian President Bashr al-Asad's passing of a decree to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon is a historic juncture that writes a precious page in the relations between two brotherly neighbours.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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