Syria hails ambassador meeting at State Department; Clinton uncertain about future ties
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday it was too soon to say whether there would be a thaw in ties with Syria, as a senior U.S. diplomat met with Syrian ambassador at the State Department. "We have regular interactions with the Syrians as a part of our normal diplomatic efforts," said Clinton of a rare meeting at the State Department between Syrian ambassador Imad Mustafa and acting head of the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, Jeffrey Feltman.
"It is too soon to say what the future holds," she added when asked whether the summoning of Syria's indicated indicated a thaw in frosty ties.
According to Reuters, the meeting between Mustafa and Feltman, which took place as Clinton spoke, was the highest-level encounter between the two countries since the Obama administration took office last month.
The U.S. ambassador was pulled out of Damascus after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
According to Clinton, she was working hard, as was the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, to engage with Israel, the Palestinians and all of its neighbors in the region, including Syria. "We are going to pursue the commitment that we stated when we appointed our special envoy to try to bring parties together for peace and stability in the Middle East," said Clinton.
On his part, the Syrian ambassador said that his meeting with Feltman was held upon an invitation from the US Department of State to discuss horizons of the Syrian-US relations and means of improving them and discuss issues of mutual concern.
"The meeting was constructive… it was featured by a mutual respect, the discussions mainly concentrated on the endeavor to find solutions, not registering stances," he said in a statement to SANA. Mustafa added "both sides agreed that this meeting will be followed by other meetings to continue dialogue on different proposed issues."