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Germany

France, Germany Positive About Lebanon's Future

The foreign ministers from Germany and France expressed optimism over Lebanon's political future at a meeting this week.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman sits on a chair at the presidential palace

Suleiman's election was seen as pivotal for Lebanon

The election of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman by parliament in Beruit last month is a reason for optimism, according to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner.

Suleiman is well aware of the need for reconciliation in Lebanon, aides to the ministers said on the sidelines of a top-level meeting of their respective governments in the Bavarian town of Straubing.

Syria still holds key

Steinmeier phoned Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Sunday to remind him of Syria's pledge to exchange ambassadors with Lebanon, a spokesman for the German foreign minister said.

Syria has been the powerbroker in Lebanon for nearly three decades. Germany has held the Syrian government responsible for the six-month delay in electing a Lebanese president.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also said he wants to renew ties with Syria, in response to the recent breakthrough in Lebanon's drawn-out political crisis.

"This visit is part of a new page we hope will be turned and written in relations between France and Syria, insofar as recent positive developments continue," said foreign ministry spokeswoman

Peace talks a challenge

While the foreign ministers were optimistic about Lebanon, they did not expect progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, initiated by US President George W Bush last year. Aides predicted the peace process will remain "very difficult."

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