French President Sarkozy announces visit to Syria

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will visit Syria as part of an effort to improve strained relations between the two countries. Sarkozy said Wednesday the Sept. 3-4 trip is aimed at pursuing "necessary dialogue" with leaders in Damascus. Syrian-French relations deteriorated after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria's critics accuse Damascus of having a role in the slaying, a charge Syria denies. Sarkozy has appeared determined to bring Syria back into the international fold. He hosted Syrian President Bashar Assad in July.