Syria and Saudi say will work to stabilise Lebanon

Syria has advised US against interfering with Saudi King`s visit to Damascus.

Damascus: Syria and Saudi Arabia pledged on Thursday to work on stabilising Lebanon, and Syria advised the United States against interfering with Saudi King Abdullah`s visit to Damascus.

Abdullah arrived for talks with President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian capital before they travel together to Beirut on Friday to try to calm tension over a tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri.

An official statement said the two rulers "affirmed that they care about backing concord in Lebanon and support all what contributes to its stability and unity”.

The United States said it hoped Syria would play a constructive role in the region and would respond to what it describes as the Saudi monarch`s concerns about Iranian threats to Middle East stability.

The Syrian government advised the United States on Thursday against interfering with Abdullah`s visit and said the two countries "know better" how to stabilise the Middle East.

The official Syrian news agency said the Syrian President personally met the Saudi monarch at Damascus airport, reflecting the importance of the visit.

"King Abdullah has played a significant leadership role in the region. So his prospective travel to Syria and to Lebanon is consistent with his search for peace, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Wednesday.

Relations between Damascus and Washington improved after President Barack Obama took power last year but major differences persist, including Syria`s strong ties with Iran and the two countries` backing for the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

"The Syrian statement seems to express a preference in Damascus not to focus on the Iran issue again during King`s Abdullah`s visit," a Syrian source said.

Shi`ite Iran was a focus of talks by King Abdullah when he visited Damascus last year, diplomats in the Syrian capital said. The visit helped mend ties between Saudi Arabia, an Arab Sunni heavyweight, and Syria, which had deteriorated after the Hariri assassination.

Bureau Report

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