Syrian-Lebanese border security coordination discussed

Lebanese army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji has reportedly made a secret visit to Syria, and discussed border control coordination between the two countries, Al-Akhbar daily reported Thursday.

The daily said that Qahwaji met with Syrian military command and discussed ways to prevent smuggling and infiltration of gunmen and terrorist networks across the borders.

A Syrian military delegation also held follow-up border control talks at the Lebanese defense ministry, the report said, reported Xinhua.

A car bomb in Damascus killed 17 people last month triggered Syrian President Bashar Assad to announce that the deteriorating security situation in north Lebanon posses a danger on Syria.

Syria then deployed about 10,000 troops along its borders with Lebanon, and said that this step aims at preventing smuggling and infiltration.

Syrian troop buildup raised fears among Lebanese pro-government leaders, as well as Western countries that such a step could develop into a Syrian intervention in Lebanon.

But the Syrian command ruled out such an assumption and stressed that the step was in accordance with UN resolution 1701, which calls for protecting neighboring borders.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on Wednesday that his country's military deployment along the borders with Lebanon serves security in both Syria and Lebanon.

The two countries have just signed a joint statement announcing the formal launch of diplomatic ties.

Syria and Lebanon have not established diplomatic relations since their independence from the French colonial rule in the 1940s. Syria did not withdraw its troops from Lebanon until 2005.

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