US envoy, Syria foreign minister discuss Mideast peace efforts

A US envoy and Syria's foreign minister met Thursday as part of American efforts to achieve a "permanent and comprehensive peace in the region," a US Embassy official said. Fred Hof, an assistant to George Mitchell, a former Senate Democratic leader who oversees US Mideast peacemaking efforts, met Walid Moallem shortly before ending a two-day visit to Damascus, the official said. The embassy official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Syrian officials did not comment on Hof's visit. Hof's visit, which included many military personnel, was also designed to address Syria's efforts to help stabilize Iraq, a State Department spokesman said before the trip. The US has long complained that Syria has allowed insurgents to cross its border into Iraq. It was Hof's second visit to Syria in less than a month.