Steinmeier to Press Syria for Greater Commitment to Peace | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 15.08.2006
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Steinmeier to Press Syria for Greater Commitment to Peace

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is on his third Middle East trip within a month. On Tuesday, he visits Syria to win the Syrian government's support for the UN peace resolution in Lebanon.

Steinmeier will visit Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia during his trip

Steinmeier will visit Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia during his trip

Just hours after the implementation of a ceasefire in Lebanon, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier again set off for the Middle East to continue his shuttle diplomacy with leaders in the region.

On Monday evening, Steinmeier met his Jordanian counterpart, Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib in Amman, where both men expressed their relief over the ceasefire between Israeli troops and Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon. Khatib underscored the importance of supporting the government in Beirut, and helping with the task of resettling Lebanese refugees.

Libanon - Flüchtlinge kehren heim

Hundreds of cars with displaced Lebanese are returning to southern Lebanon

Steinmeier was due to have an audience with Jordan's King Abdullah on Tuesday morning before leaving for Damascus where he is expected to meet with President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

Wooing Syria away from Iran

Foreign ministry spokesman Jens Plötner told reporters that Steinmeier plans to offer Syria the prospect of closer economic ties with the European Union in return for it playing a more constructive role in resolving the conflict.

Steinmeier had strongly hinted in a recent newspaper interview that he wanted to persuade Syria to get involved in a solution to stop the bloodshed and woo it away from Iran's influence, possibly by offering economic incentives in return.

Nahost Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Israel bei Ehud Olmert

Last week, Steinmeier met with Lebanese and Israeli leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

"We want to test whether Syria really wants to link itself with Iran in the long-run," Steinmeier told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The foreign minister will end his trip in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday evening.

Plötner said that all three countries on Steinmeier's agenda are "urgently needed for a lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East."

He noted in particular the "extremely important" role that could be played by Syria, which says it offers "moral support" to Hezbollah. Israel and the United States accuse Damascus of arming the group.

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