Israeli Industry and Trade Minister Ariel Sharon met here secretly in May with an official Syrian emissary, “in order to put the tacit agreements which are said to be existing between the two countries on Lebanon into a slightly more concrete form,” a Belgian newspaper said Monday.
Quoting unidentified “Arab and Israeli credible sources,” the large-circulation Belgian daily Le Soir said the man whom Sharon encountered in the Belgian capital was “an official businessman very close to Syrian President Hafez Assad.”
Sharon’s interlocutor carried a diplomatic passport. The private meeting, which took place May 29 in the Brussels hotel where Sharon was staying, was arranged without the aid of any official mediator.
According to Le Soir, the two men centered their talks on the military situation in Lebanon and exchanged maps of Lebanon.
Both the Syrian and Israeli embassies declined any comment on the reported meeting.
The stated objective of Sharon’s one-day visit to Brussels was to meet with members of the Belgian section of the Herut Party. At the time, it was also said that the Likud minister had come here to raise money for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
The Belgian newspaper also remarked that Syria has been reserved in its reaction to the capture by Israeli commandos of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, in a Lebanese zone under Syrian control.
“For several years, Israel and Syria have carefully avoided any squabbles between their aircraft and armies in Lebanon,” it noted. “Long ago, observers stressed the emergence of a de facto accord between Damascus and Jerusalem in order to divide Lebanon into zones of influence.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.