Ban Ki-moon and Syrian leader discuss Lebanon, regional peace and security

Regional peace and security and the situation in neighbouring Lebanon in the wake of last year's war topped the agenda during talks today in Damascus between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Assad had a 75-minute tête-à-tête in which the Syrian President assured the UN leader of cooperation in all matters relating to peace and security in the Middle East, including the Security Council resolution ending the war in Lebanon, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists.

The Secretary-General and his delegation, who are on the final leg of a four-nation tour, also met with Syria's Vice President Farouk al-Shara and Foreign Minister Walid el-Muallem.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Syria to return to UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban said he had held constructive meetings with the country's leaders.

The UN chief also visited the Damascus offices of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and witnessed the work being done by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has been maintaining a ceasefire in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria since 1974.

Mr. Ban had already visited Italy, Switzerland and Qatar on this official trip.