German FM urges 'positive' Syrian role in ME peace

Germany's foreign minister called on Syria to play a "constructive role" in the Middle East at a meeting Friday with its deputy prime minister and expressed hope that Damascus will approach Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts positively, the Foreign Ministry said. While criticizing Syria, particularly over its role in Lebanon, Germany has sought consistently to draw it into solving the Middle East's problems. During his visit to Berlin, Abdullah al-Dardari, Syria's deputy prime minister for economic affairs, met both with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and with Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. Steinmeier stressed during Friday's meeting that "the commitment of all states in the region is necessary for peace and stability," a statement from his ministry said. Steinmeier "expressed his hope that the Syrian leadership will find its way to a constructive role in the region," it added. That, it said, would include "in particular the acceptance of Lebanese sovereignty and a positive position" toward efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together.