WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Monday pressed Syria to resume long-stalled peace talks with Israel as part of its push for broad settlement between Arab countries and the Jewish state.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met on Monday in New York with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem to make the case for negotiations. The State Department said Clinton was the first secretary of state to meet Syria's top diplomat in three years, although special Mideast envoy George Mitchell has made several visits to Syria in the past year.
"The secretary affirmed our objective of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, which included the Syrian track," department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, adding that she and Moallem had agreed to "develop some ideas on that."
"We left the meeting with the understanding that the Syrians were interested in developing this element of the peace process," he told reporters.
In addition to Clinton's bringing up US hopes for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement, Crowley said the secretary of state had told her Syrian counterpart that Washington is committed to the sovereignty of Lebanon, where Syria is accused of having undue influence after years of military occupation, and Iraq.
"No outside party should be working to undermine the stability of either country," Crowley said Clinton told Moallem.