Lebanon, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saad Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, stressed that relations between his country and Syria were ‘historic relations’. In an interview with ‘Asharq al-Awsat’, his first with the media since the third meeting between him and President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Hariri confessed to conducting a self-review of the relationship [between the two countries], declaring that when he goes to Syria, he feels himself “going to the country of a brother or a friend”. Hariri also spoke for the first time about the issue known as ‘false witnesses’, stating that these witnesses “misled the investigation” into the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Hariri said: “I have opened a new page in relations with Syria since the formation of the government”. He continued: “One must be realistic in this relationship and build it on solid foundations. One should also assess the past years, so as not to repeat previous mistakes. Hence, we conducted an assessment of errors committed on our behalf with Syria, and I felt for the Syrian people, and the relationship between the two countries. We must always look to the interests of both peoples, both countries and their relationship. At a certain stage we made mistakes. We accused Syria of assassinating the martyred premier, and this was a political accusation”.
Regarding his stance on the issue of ‘false witnesses’, Hariri said: “Much has been made of the subject of false witnesses. There are people who misled the investigation, and they have caused harm to Syria and Lebanon…these false witnesses ruined the relationship between the two countries, and politicized the assassination”. Regarding the [Rafik] Hariri Tribunal, he said: “I do not want to talk much about the tribunal, but what I will say is that the tribunal is not linked to the political accusations, which were hasty”. Furthermore, Hariri praised the role played by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, in the stability of Lebanon and the region. He said “the steps which he [King Abdullah] undertook contributed significantly to the stability of the region. This wise policy which we refer to constitutes a security network for the Lebanese and Arab world…not to mention the kindness of the Kingdom in Lebanon, in contributing to reconstructing what was damaged during the war”.