(photo credit: AP)
The leader of the US House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in coming days will visit Syria, a country President George W. Bush has shunned as a state sponsor of terrorism, despite being asked by the administration not to go.
"In our view, it is not the right time to have these sort of high-profile visitors to Syria," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Friday.
Pelosi will not be the first member of Congress in recent months to travel to Syria, but as House speaker she is the most senior.
"This is a country that is a state sponsor of terror, one that is trying to disrupt the Saniora government in Lebanon and one that is allowing foreign fighters to flow into Iraq from its borders," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, arrived in Israel on Friday on her second fact-finding trip to the Middle East since she took over in January.
Among those in her delegation is Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress. Others traveling with Pelosi include Rep. Tom Lantos, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The group planned to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and to travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said Ellison's spokesman, Rick Jauert.
The speaker plans to address the Israeli Knesset on Sunday in what will be her first address to a foreign government legislature and as the highest ranking American woman to speak before the Israeli parliament, according to Pelosi's office.
She is expected to discuss "America's commitment to Israel and the challenges facing the two nations in the Middle East," according to a statement.
In late January, Pelosi led a delegation of House members to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and other neighboring countries.