Syria's differences with the United Nations and Lebanon topped the agenda when Syrian President Bashar Assad held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak here Tuesday, Egypt's foreign minister said. Assad flew to Cairo for a visit of only a few hours and immediately went into talks with Mubarak. Syria has come under increasing international pressure since the U.N. investigation into a Lebanese leader's assassination in February has accused its government of failing to provide full cooperation.
The investigation, headed by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, has exacerbated relations between Lebanon and Syria. The Lebanese government welcomed Mehlis' finding that former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed with the complicity of the Lebanese and Syrian intelligence services, but Syria rejected it as unfounded.
After their talks, neither Assad nor Mubarak spoke to the media, but Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said they "focused on the main regional issues related to the Mehlis investigation and the latest U.N. Security Council decision and how Syria dealt with it, as well as Syrian-Lebanese relations and how to advance them." Last week, the U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of the investigation by six months. Syria has pledged to cooperate and denied that it hasn't offered full assistance so far.
During the presidents' discussions, Aboul Gheit met with his Syrian counterpart, Farouk al-Sharaa. The foreign ministers joined the presidents for lunch, and then the Syrians left for home. Egypt, the political heavyweight of the Arab world, has been trying to mediate between Syria and the West.
The United States, which fully supports the U.N. investigation, has accused Syria of continuing to play a covert role in Lebanon and of failing to stop fighters from crossing the Syrian-Iraqi border to join the insurgency in Iraq. Syria denies the charges, reports the AP. N.U.
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