Assad, Abdullah meet in Damascus, express hope for unity in Beirut

Assad, Abdullah meet in

Syrian President Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah stressed the importance of forming a national unity government in Lebanon, Syria's news agency reported on Thursday. The two leaders apparently made pledges to strengthen ties between the two countries during their landmark meeting in Damascus. Relations between the countries had been tense at best since the 2005 murder of former Saudi-backed Lebanese president Rafik Hariri, rumored to have been commissioned by the Assad regime. Assad and Abdullah discussed inter-Arab relations, referring to the Palestinian conflict and also to the political situation in Beirut - for years a bone of contention between the two Arab countries - expressing hopes for reconciliation between Lebanon's two rival political factions.