Lebanon's defense minister is visiting Syria for the first time since escaping a 2005 assassination attempt which he suggested at the time was the work of Syrian intelligence agents. The visit is a sign of improved ties between the two neighboring countries as they seek to rebuild trust. Elias Murr is the latest in a string of senior Lebanese officials to come to Damascus. Murr on Wednesday held talks with President Bashar Assad and his Syrian counterpart, Hassan Ali Turkmani. Syria's official news agency said they discussed security cooperation and combating cross-border smuggling. Lebanon and Syria in August decided to establish formal diplomatic relations, for the first time since they gained independence in the 1940s.