Lebanese Politician Accuses Syria of Blocking Israel Border Progress

A Lebanese political leader, sought by a Syrian military court over accusations he urged the U.S. to invade Syria, accused Damascus on Sunday of delaying a solution for its contentious border area with Israel and Lebanon.

"Syria, until now, has only shown theoretical readiness to draw the borders in the Chebaa Farms, but there is nothing workable on the ground," Walid Jumblatt told reporters after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Both Lebanon and Syria claim that the Chebaa Farms area is Lebanese. But Israel and the United Nations say it is Syrian. Israel captured the territory from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war and continues to hold it.

The Chebaa Farms became a major point of dispute after Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, with the Lebanese Hezbollah militia refusing to disarm until Israeli forces evacuate the zone.

Relations between Lebanon and Syria plummeted following the assassination last year of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which many Lebanese blame on Syria. A U.N.-mandated probe has implicated Syrian security officials in the assassination, though Syria denies involvement.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have made repeated attempts in the past few months to mediate a formula that would ease tensions between Syria and Lebanon.

Jumblatt, who heads the Lebanese Socialist Party and leads the offshoot Muslim Druse sect, is at the forefront of a campaign to eliminate Syrian influence in Lebanon.

He and Lebanon's Information Minister Ghazi Aridi met with Egypt's Mubarak on Sunday to brief him on the advancement of the inter-Lebanese dialogue conference, Jumblatt said.

A Syrian attorney said Saturday that Jumblatt would be tried in absentia if he defied the summons from a military court to answer allegations that he urged the United States to invade Syria.

The lawyer said that under binding judicial agreements signed by Syria and Lebanon, Lebanese judicial authorities have to hand Jumblatt over to Damascus.

Jumblatt has scoffed at the summons, and the United States also condemned it.