Kerry meets Syria's Assad on Mideast issues: US embassy

DAMASCUS- US Senator John Kerry met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a second time in as many months on Saturday for talks on "regional issues," the American embassy in Damascus said.
"Kerry travels often in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which he follows regional issues," an embassy official said.

US Senator John Kerry
US Senator John Kerry
"This visit is a follow-up one to previous trips that he has made to Syria," the same source said without elaborating.
On his previous visit to Damascus on April 1, Kerry said US President Barack Obama's administration considers Syria a key player in efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.
"Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region," the former US presidential candidate said at the time.
"Both the United States and Syria have a very deep interest... in having a very frank exchange on any differences (and) agreements that we have about the possibilities of peace in this region," he said.
Obama's administration has pursued a year-long campaign to engage Syria, a former US foe, and energise its thwarted push for a broad Arab-Israeli peace, particularly between Israel and the Palestinians.
In February, it named Robert Ford the first US ambassador to Damascus in five years, an appointment the United States has yet to confirm.
But Kerry's latest visit comes at a sensitive time following a US decision early this month to renew sanctions against Syria for a year.
In addition, Washington accused Syria late last month of arming the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah with increasingly sophisticated rockets and missiles, which it says are undermining regional stability.
That came after Israeli President Shimon Peres said Syria was supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles, a charge that Damascus denied.

Saturday, May 22nd 2010

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