First Published: 2009-02-18

 
Assad in talks with US delegation on boosting ties
 

Second US congressional delegation visits Syria in less than month amid signs of improving relations.

 

Middle East Online

Senator Cardin with President Assad

DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed ways of boosting ties with the United States during a meeting with visiting US Congressmen on Wednesday, the state-run SANA news agency said.

The talks with the delegation led by Senator Benjamin Cardin "focused on ties between Syria and the United States and the importance of developing them through a serious and positive dialogue based on mutual respect," it said.

The US senators also underscored the "importance of pursuing the dialogue" between the two nations, whose relations soured under former US president George W. Bush.

"The discussions also focused on developments in the region and what could be done to bolster efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East, in addition to fighting terrorism," SANA said.

It quoted Assad as saying that "achieving peace is the key to achieving stability in the region."

The Damascus talks came as a British newspaper quoted Assad as welcoming US President Barack Obama's moves towards dialogue and said he would like to see full diplomatic ties resumed.

"We have the impression that this administration will be different and we have seen the signals. But we have to wait for the reality and the results," Assad told the Guardian newspaper.

The Cardin-led delegation is the second congressional team to visit Syria in less than a month and John Kerry, foreign relations committee chairman, is expected to make the country one of his stops on a current Middle East tour.

Assad described the visits as "important" and a "good gesture," but said he hoped Washington would send an ambassador to cement these ties.

The United States pulled it ambassador from Syria after the February 2005 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in a car bomb attack blamed on Syria. Damascus has denied any involvement.

Syria's relations with the United States struggled under the administration of former president George W. Bush amid accusations that Damascus was turning a blind eye to the arming and funding of insurgents in neighbouring Iraq.

The Bush administration also accused Damascus of supporting resistance groups, like Lebanon's Hezbollah and the democratically elected Palestinian Hamas movement.

Assad returned to the international fold in July with a visit to Paris, and since then, relations with the international community have thawed, most notably with the United States since Obama's inauguration in January.

 

Ahead of elections, new clashes remind Tunisia of need to fight terror

South Yemen separatists vow to intensify secession protests

Coalition strikes in Syria eliminate more than 500 jihadists in one month

Saudi Arabia jails mothers for preparing sons to wage jihad

Turkish pianist to Islamist-rooted government: Don't be afraid of artists!

Relatives of Iraq massacre victims: Blackwater guards should be killed

Ghannouchi makes it clear to Tunisia: It’s either political Islam or Daesh!

Deadly clashes erupt after army raid in northern Lebanon

200 Iraqi Kurd fighters to travel through Turkey to Kobane

Jury finds Blackwater guards guilty of 2007 'massacre' in Iraq

Iraq Kurds approve reinforcements for Kobane

Israel classifies car crash as ‘hit and run terror attack’

Turkish woman arrested for stepping on Koran

Erdogan criticises US for airdrops on Kobane

Iraq schools provide shelter but late to open for classes

Syria air force shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

Egypt court rules on ‘Nasr City terror cell’

Fire from Egypt wounds two Israeli soldiers near border

By hook or by crook, settlers notch up property gains in East Jerusalem

Turkey envoy meets leader of parallel government in Libya

Israel arrests seven Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza

Khamenei to Abadi: Iraq can beat 'Islamic State' without foreign troops

Saudi special court rules in cases of riots and terrorism

Libya army scores small victory in Benghazi

Only in Libya: Government calls for civil disobedience

Kasserine reaps bitter harvest from Tunisia revolution: Poverty and terrorism

Iraq Kurds set to vote on deployment of Peshmerga forces to Syria

Islamic State ‘share in US weapons’ embarrasses Pentagon

Alderton: Morocco unrivalled business gateway to sub-Saharan Africa

Protests over IS turn Istanbul University into war zone

Turkey eyes stricter punishment against lawbreakers at protests

For Sudan President: Promises are something and re-election is something else

Iran returns Abadi to ‘house of obedience’

From traditional military to counterinsurgency force: Syria army grows more capable

South Sudan rivals accept 'responsibility' for civil war

British drones in Iraq also used for Syria surveillance

Turkey launches new wave of wire-tapping arrests

Rise of Shiite militias challenges government authority in Iraq

Syria Kurds show impressive resistance to ‘Islamic State’ in Kobane

Vote or boycott: Grim record of self-serving politicians puts off voters in Tunisia

Egypt universities tighten security to avoid new Islamist violence

Iran forces inside Iraq as Abadi rules out foreign ground intervention!

South Sudan rivals meet in new bid to end civil war

From Morocco into Spain: Crowd of African migrants charges to border fence

Deadly suicide attack targets Shiite mosque in central Baghdad