The two-day visit is the first by a Western head of state since 2005.

France, under Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac, severed ties with Syria following the murder of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a car bomb attack in Beirut in February 2005.

Sarkozy, who hosted Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Paris in July, has said that he is opposed to isolating Syria.

On 4 September, Sarkozy and Al-Assad will hold talks with officials from Turkey and Qatar on Lebanon and Syria’s indirect peace talks with Israel.