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Thursday, November 13, 2008 

Britain cuddles up to Syria

Britain's Foreign Minister David Miliband is on his way to Damascus - as Syria's remarkable comeback continues.

Miliband's visit comes after Walid Mu'alim made the trip to the UK last month. He's hoping to meet Bashar Al-Assad too.

Yesterday Miliband said "There has been an important change in the approach of the Syrian government.” He praised Damascus for cutting the number of foreign fighters and weapons over the past year.

It is Britain's highest-level contact since Tony Blair came to Damascus in 2001. Blair was humiliated when Bashar lectured him about suicide-bombing in a joint press conference.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy made the first major hole in Syria's isolation when he invited Bashar to Paris to be guest of honour at the Bastille Day celebrations.

Britain's been stuck to the Bush agenda of ignore-ignore-ignore. But with Bush on the way out, and Obama promising negoations with Syria, Britain has jumped into the let's-talk camp.

But what's more interesting is speculation that Britain is trying to take the lead - and steal France's glory. A few years ago, the West was united in isolating Syria. Now those same countries are competing to be Syria's best friend.

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