Middle East
Pelosi: Israel and Syria want talks
US house speaker says al-Assad responds positively to message from Israeli premier.
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2007 02:05 GMT
The White House condemned the meeting
between Pelosi and the Syrian president [AFP]
The speaker of the US House of Representatives has said that Israel and Syria want peace talks.
Nancy Pelosi met Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president on Wednesday and conveyed a message from Ehud Olmert, the Israeli premier, that Israel was ready for peace talks.
She said al-Assad responded that he was ready to restart peace talks too.
"[Our] meeting with the president enabled us to communicate a message from Prime Minister Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks," Pelosi said.
She added that al-Assad "was ready to engage in negotiations [for] peace with Israel".
Pelosi spoke to journalists at the end of a two-day visit to Syria, which the White House criticised as undermining US efforts to isolate Syria.

Syria's official news agency quoted al-Assad as telling Pelosi: "Syria has adopted the Arab initiative. Its strategic choice is peace."
'No response'
George Bush, the US president, has said Pelosi's trip signals that the al-Assad government is part of the international mainstream when it is not.
"A lot of people have gone to see President Assad ... and yet we haven't seen action. He hasn't responded," Bush said.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the White House national security council called the visit "counterproductive".
Pelosi said she and other members of her congressional delegation told al-Assad their concerns about fighters crossing from Syria into Iraq.
The house speaker also said she had spoken to the president about Israeli soldiers captured by the Lebanese group Hezbollah and Palestinian groups.
Democrats have argued that the US should engage with its rivals in the region - Iran and Syria - to make headway in easing the problems in Iraq, Lebanon and the Israeli-Arab peace process.
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