US officials expressed hope Sunday about the prospects for Middle East peace talks, but were uncertain what immediate impact the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad would have on the peace effort, reported The Associated Press.
"The dust I think does need to settle," cautioned White House chief of staff John Podesta Sunday on CNN's 'Late Edition' program.
"I think time will tell whether we can make progress in the short-term and hopefully we can make progress over the long-term."
US Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross predicted Syria would see a smooth transition under the expected leadership of Assad's son, Bashar.
"It seems to me that the initial signs that we have seen suggest that there is a very smooth transition process underway," Ross was quoted as saying Sunday on ABC's 'This Week' program
President Bill Clinton on Sunday had a brief telephone conversation with Bashar to express his condolences, spokesman for the White House National Securities Council, P.J. Crowley, told the agency.
"Bashar has not been involved in the peace process but there appears to be an orderly process of transition underway and we'll wait until that process is completed," Crowley told AP.
An official source in Damascus was quoted as saying on Sunday Bashar told Clinton that he would pursue his father's aims of achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
"Clinton said he would continue to work for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East," the source said - Albawaba.com
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