Lebanese President Elias Sarkis met Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad in Damascus on Monday (14 May) for two days of talks on the latest outbreak of violence in Lebanon.
Lebanese President Elias Sarkis met Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad in Damascus on Monday (14 May) for two days of talks on the latest outbreak of violence in Lebanon. Following the summit meeting it was announced in Beirut on Wednesday (16 May) that Lebanese Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss, who had accompanied President Sarkis to Syria, had tendered his resignation. Dr. Hoss had led an administration of technocrats for two and a half years and stepped down from office after pressure from parliamentarians to establish a government of politicians committed to national unity. The formation of such an administration to weld together the warring factions in Lebanon, was believed to have been discussed during the Damascus summit.
SYNOPSIS: President Sarkis' delegation was met on the outskirts of Damascus by President Assad and Syrian cabinet ministers. As the leaders met, at least two people died and seven were wounded in clashes between Palestinian guerrillas and right-wing militiamen in Beirut. Ten people have been killed since Saturday (12 May) in inter-rightist feuding and the whole of southern Lebanon is still tense following repeated Israeli raids on Palestinian bases. The Presidents last met in October, at the height of fierce fighting between Syrian troops and rightist militiamen in Beirut. Syria's close involvement in Lebanon dates from 1976 when the Arab League mandated thirty thousand predominantly Syrian troops to enforce the cease-fire ending Lebanon's civil war.
The summit talks were held in the Damascus Guest Palace. Leaders of Lebanon's powerful right-wing parties have repeatedly called for the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, and this issue was one of the main topics of the discussion. No details of the talks were disclosed but usually well-informed Lebanese newspapers said a plan was discussed to partially replace Syrian force with Lebanese troops. A new agreement governing the activity of Palestinian guerrillas was also said to have been discussed along with the plan to form a new Lebanese government of national unity.