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.

 

Turkey detains top generals, prominent journalists in widening purge

Russia ‘far from US positions’ on Syria

Libya demands explanation over presence of French troops

Arab summit in Mauritania cut to single day

Cheers in Abu Dhabi as solar plane completes round-the-world trip

Bahrain refers 138 ‘terror’ suspects to court

Brutal attacks reignite political friction in Germany

Weakened army still faces twin challenges in Turkey

Hamas 'summer camp' trains dozens of young people for war

Palestinians seek to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour Declaration

UN hopes Syria peace talks can resume late August

Israeli authorities destroy 11 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

ISIS claims attack on French church in Normandy

Erdogan accuses EU of not paying up under migrant deal

Study: Height down in some MENA countries

Iran denies presence of three Al-Qaeda operatives

Iran caps salaries in bid to end scandal

Kerry says US-Russia talks on Syria 'making progress'

Erdogan to visit Russia on August 9

More than 3,000 lost in Mediterranean in 2016

13 killed in Somalia suicide bomb attacks

Panama Papers reveal Italian bribes' paid to Algerian officials

Syria regime advances on rebels in Aleppo

Turkey detains veteran female reporter

ISIS claims second German attack in a week

France calls for immediate humanitarian truce in Aleppo

Dozens dead in 5 days of Yemen fighting

Israel advances plans for 770 settlement homes

Libya conflict keeps 279,000 children out of school

After week of attacks, Germany warns of backlash against refugees

Iraqi charged with having 'trace' explosives in Poland

UN Syria envoy, US, Russian officials to hold talks Tuesday

Kuwait top court acquits IOC powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad

Air strikes, rebel fire kill 19 in Aleppo

12 killed in suicide bomb attack north of Baghdad

Egypt policeman killed in Sinai attack claimed by IS

Turkey cracks down on journalists after coup

Syrian migrant blows self up near German music festival

ISIS suicide bomber kills at least 15 in northern Baghdad

Turkey readies first cross-party rally to condemn coup

Libya loyalists seize ISIS bomb factory in Sirte

Tunisia dissident, Mohsen Marzouk, opens new party congress

Air raids jeopardise much-needed medical care in Aleppo

Saudi delegation in Israel to promote stalled peace initiative

At least 61 people dead as ISIS claims twin blasts in Kabul