Blair sends diplomat to get Syria to play ME role

November 1, 2006 15:56


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Britain's Tony Blair dispatched his senior foreign policy adviser to Damascus this week to press Syria to play a role in bringing stability to Iraq amid coalition attempts to quash unrelenting sectarian violence, officials confirmed Wednesday. Nigel Sheinwald, a high-ranking foreign policy adviser and envoy, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday in the two countries' first official talks since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, said Nicola Davies, the British Embassy spokeswoman in Damascus. Syria also is a major player in the Palestinian conflict and in Lebanon, since it hosts exiled Hamas leaders and supports Hizbullah. Blair's Downing Street office said the British leader would visit the Middle East himself later this year.

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