- Planetary alignment peaks with celestial show this weekend
- UK fighters escort Pakistan plane to airport, two arrests
- Judge rules against 'America's toughest sheriff' in racial profiling lawsuit
- Sixth night of violence in Sweden, but police say capital calmer |
- Justice Department defends journalist email search
Senator Kerry to see Assad during Mideast trip
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - John Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate's foreign relations committee, will meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad next week during a Middle East trip as Washington works to keep a dialogue between the two countries despite years of tension.
Assad said recently Syria wanted to have a constructive dialogue with the United States, and President Barack Obama, who took over from President George W. Bush last month, said during his campaign he wanted to reach out to Syria.
Kerry's spokesman Frederick Jones said the senator would be traveling to Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Israel as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and not as an emissary of the Obama administration.
Kerry, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for president against Bush in 2004, was due to meet President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, but his other appointments were not yet clear.
Jones said Kerry had met Assad before and had conducted a "continuing dialogue" with Syrian officials, including a recent meeting with Damascus' ambassador to Washington.
Kerry met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday, Jones said.
Syria and the United States are on poor terms because of Damascus' support for the Palestinian group Hamas and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah.
Under Bush, Washington withdrew its ambassador in Damascus following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and accused Syria of allowing Islamist fighters to infiltrate Iraq. Cooperation between Syria and Iran has also angered Washington.
The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday that Representative Howard Berman, chairman of the House (of Representatives) Foreign Affairs Committee, also would meet Assad this month. A Berman aide said that for security reasons the committee would not confirm or deny reports about travel plans.
(Editing by David Storey)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this