Syria halts collaboration with France
( Reuters ) - Syria on Wednesday suspended diplomatic cooperation with France aimed at ending the political crisis in Lebanon -- a move that mirrored earlier similar action by Paris.
The Paris government has accused Damascus of not promoting a deal that could fill a vacuum in the Lebanese presidency and end an opposition boycott of the government.
"It seems that the French want to blame Syria for their failure ... to reach a solution to the crisis," Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told reporters.
"Accordingly, Syria has decided to stop cooperation."
French President Nicholas Sarkozy ordered his government last week to halt diplomatic contacts with Syria over what he described as Damascus's failure to show it was working for a consensus solution after two months of contacts with France.
Moualem said Syria would not pressure its allies in the opposition, mainly the Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, to accept a solution that could lead to instability in Lebanon.
" Syria has refused to put pressure on the opposition and the opposition would not accept pressure anyhow," Moualem said.
The crisis pits the pro-Western government against opposition groups backed by Syria and its ally Iran. France has been leading efforts to mediate a settlement.