Jumblatt says Syria is delaying peace

Druse leader also says there is no reason for Hizbullah to have weapons.

iaf strikes lebanon 298. (photo credit: Associated Press)
iaf strikes lebanon 298.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
A Lebanese political leader, sought by a Syrian military court over accusations he urged the US to invade Syria, accused Damascus on Sunday of delaying a solution for its contentious border area with Israel and Lebanon. "Syria, until now, has only shown theoretical readiness to draw the borders in the Shaba Farms, but there is nothing workable on the ground," Walid Jumblatt told reporters after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
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Jumblatt also said that there was no reason for the continued armament of Hizbullah, because Israel was no longer in Lebanon. The Druse leader told reporters he wondered why Lebanon continued to be an arena for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He added that it was time to integrate Hizbullah into the Lebanese army, so that the country could finally enjoy the fruits of peace. Both Lebanon and Syria claim that the Shaba Farms area is Lebanese. But Israel and the United Nations say it is Syrian. Israel captured the territory from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war and continues to hold it. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have made repeated attempts in the past few months to mediate a formula that would ease tensions between Syria and Lebanon. Jumblatt, who heads the Lebanese Socialist Party and leads the offshoot Muslim Druse sect, is at the forefront of a campaign to eliminate Syrian influence in Lebanon. He and Lebanon's Information Minister Ghazi Aridi met with Egypt's Mubarak on Sunday to brief him on the advancement of the inter-Lebanese dialogue conference, Jumblatt said. A Syrian attorney said Saturday that Jumblatt would be tried in absentia if he defied the summons from a military court to answer allegations that he urged the United States to invade Syria. The lawyer said that under binding judicial agreements signed by Syria and Lebanon, Lebanese judicial authorities have to hand Jumblatt over to Damascus. Jumblatt has scoffed at the summons, and the United States also condemned it.