DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria and Lebanon have agreed to start diplomatic ties and exchange ambassadors for the first time since independence about 60 years ago, a Syrian presidential adviser said Wednesday. The decision was taken during a meeting in Damascus between President Bashar al-Assad and his visiting Lebanese counterpart Michel Sleiman, presidential counsellor for politics Bussaina Shaaban said in a statement. "The two presidents decided to establish diplomatic relations at the level of ambassadors, in line with the treaty of the United Nations and international law," the statement said. Presidents Assad and Sleiman "instructed their foreign ministries to take the necessary measures in this regard to conform with the laws of the two countries," the statement added. Syria and Lebanon have not had diplomatic ties since independence from French colonial power about 60 years ago but Assad and Sleiman agreed to establish relations during talks last month in Paris. Sleiman, a former army chief elected by parliament in May, was given a red-carpet welcome by Assad at the People's Palace overlooking Damascus on his arrival. "(Assad) has instructed all concerned Syrian officials that he wants this visit to be successful and fruitful," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in comments published in Lebanon's As-Safir newspaper. "The visit is a starting point... for future relations. We hope it will yield good relations in the interests" of the Lebanese and Syrian people. Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a stalwart of the Syrian-backed opposition in Beirut, said however the Tripoli bombing was timed "to prevent the improvement of Lebanese-Syrian relations." Syria's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack as a "criminal act" and expressed support for Lebanon "in the face of all those who are manipulating its security and stability."