French parliamentary delegation affirms good relations with Syria

A French parliamentary delegation visiting Syria said Thursday that cooperation between Damascus and Paris was ongoing, despite both countries having announced they had suspended talks over the situation in Lebanon. "Political and diplomatic relations witness ups and downs, but French-Syrian friendship is historical," Jean Luc Reitzer, a member of the three-man delegation, told reporters in Damascus. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem announced last week that his country was suspending talks with France on Lebanon's political crisis, retaliating for a similar move made earlier by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy had said that France wouldn't talk with Syria, which wields considerable influence over Lebanon's Hezbollah-led opposition, until Damascus showed a willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president. Al-Moallem said last week that Syria was surprised by the French move and has also "decided to stop Syrian-French cooperation to solve the Lebanese crisis."