Miliband to visit Syria

Foreign Secretary David Miliband (L) and Bosnia's top peace overseer Miroslav Lajcak address reporters at Sarajevo's airport after their arrival from Brussels November 10, 2008. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

LONDON (Reuters) - Foreign Secretary David Miliband is to visit Syria as part of a tour of the Middle East next week in an effort to improve relations, his office said on Wednesday.

Miliband will visit Israel, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territories and Syria, a spokeswoman said, giving no details of specific dates.

She said the visit was part of efforts to develop “a strong UK-Syrian partnership based on mutual trust, shared interests and a vision for a stable peaceful and prosperous Middle East.”

The visit follows talks last month in London between Miliband and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem and is the latest in a series of overtures between Syria and European nations, particularly France and Britain, seeking an end to Syria’s strained relations with the West due to its support of Iran.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Louise Ireland and Kate Kelland