May 29th, 2008 17:11 EST
France phones Syria
France says President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned his Syrian counterpart Thursday to discuss recent political developments in Lebanon and peace negotiations with Israel.
A statement from Mr. Sarkozy`s office says the French leader called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of a French pledge to reopen high-level contact with Damascus. It says the two had promised to revive contact once there was evidence of "tangible" progress toward ending Lebanon`s political crisis.
France says Mr. Sarkozy also expressed his support for renewed peace talks between Syria and Israel. The two countries confirmed last week that Turkey has been indirectly mediating their peace talks for more than a year.
Syrian state media reported earlier Thursday that Mr. Sarkozy hailed Mr. Assad`s role in recent Arab-mediated talks in Doha that led to Lebanon`s presidential election last Sunday.
Relations between Syria and France had been tense since Paris criticized Damascus last year for failing to help solve Lebanon`s political deadlock.
Lebanon had been without a president since November due to the stalemate between its government and opposition.
Lebanon`s parliament elected a consensus candidate, army chief General Michel Suleiman, as president Sunday following the Arab-brokered peace talks in Doha.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.