Assad meets Druze leader Jumblatt

1st meeting in years possible sign of reconciliation, rising Syrian sway in Lebanon.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 31, 2010 13:38
Syrian President Bashar Assad

bashar assad 311. (photo credit: AP)

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria's state-run news agency says President Bashar Assad has met with a Lebanese Druse leader for the first time in years in a sign of reconciliation between the foes.

Improved ties between Walid Jumblatt and Damascus could boost Syria's role in Lebanese politics five years after its troops were forced out of Lebanon. The Syrians withdrew in April 2005, ending nearly three decades of domination of their smaller neighbor.

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In 2007, Jumblatt told a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters that Assad was a "snake" and a "tyrant" and called for revenge against him.

About three weeks ago, he called those remarks "improper."

The leader of Lebanon's terror Hizbullah group Hassan Nasrallah mediated between the Syrians and Jumblatt for several months.

Jumblatt and Assad met Wednesday.


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