US Mideast envoy prepares for possible Syria visit

President Barack Obama's special Middle East envoy is laying plans to visit Syria as a way to push forward talks between the Arab world and Israel, US officials said Friday. Former Sen. George Mitchell and his team have applied for Syrian visas for an as-yet unannounced trip that could come within a month. The officials, who insisted on anonymity because no announcement has been approved, cautioned that Mitchell's schedule is still uncertain and that even if the visas are granted Mitchell may not to visit Syria. If Mitchell travels to Syria, he would be the highest-level US visitor there since Obama took office. Lower level officials, including Acting Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro, a Middle East expert at the White House, have visited Damascus twice.