'Al-Hayat:' Syria not allowing arms smuggling

Al-Hayat: Syrian official says any arms smuggling conducted through sea; rejects EU monitors.

Assad 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Assad 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Syria is not allowing arms to be smuggled through its territory into Lebanon, a senior official was quoted as saying Friday. "Syria controls the border," Al-Hayat quoted the official as telling Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik during her visit to Damascus in recent days. "Weapons smuggling to Lebanon is not conducted through the Syria-Lebanon border, but rather [from] the sea." According to the report in the London-based newspaper, Plassnik expressed concern over Syria's control of the border, and was given firm assurances by senior members of the Syrian government that the border was secure. Further, the paper reported that the Syrian officials rejected the idea of stationing European Union monitors on the border, saying that the move was unnecessary as "Syria and Lebanon are not enemies." A government spokesperson in Syria confirmed on Friday that Syrian President Bashar Assad had met with Plassnik and discussed the issue of Middle East peace and ways to advance the process. "Assad told the Austrian foreign minister that his country is doing its utmost in order to achieve peace and justice throughout the region," the spokesperson said.