Sarkozy to visit Lebanon - but not Syria, sources say
French president Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to visit Lebanon but will not visit neighboring Syria, Lebanese governmental sources said Monday, dpa reported.
Sarkozy's visit would include a single meeting with President Michel Suleiman and a trip to meet with the French contingent in UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, on New Year's day.
According to the sources Sarkozy would focus his talks with Suleiman on the development of Lebanese-Syrian relations in the wake of the agreement reached between France and Syria, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Paris last September.
Sarkozy will also discuss the preparations for Suleiman's own visit to Paris next March.
Media reports had said that Sarkozy might visit Damascus to discuss with Assad the situation in the region under the new American administration.
Lebanon and Syria established diplomatic ties for the first time since their independence in the 1940s in October 2008.
Relations between the two Arab nations have been lopsided in Syria's favour since the 1970s, when Syria sent its army into Lebanon and retained control there for nearly 30 years. Ties unraveled when former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a 2005 car bombing that many Lebanese blame on Syria - a charge Syria denies.