Mitchell: Current talks will not derail Israel-Syria deal

US envoy meets with Assad in Syria; says US goal is "comprehensive peace," not just Israeli-Palestinian deal; will travel to Beirut next.

Mitchell 311 (photo credit: Alex Brandon/AP)
Mitchell 311
(photo credit: Alex Brandon/AP)
Current US brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestinians will not derail Washington from attempting to reach an agreement between Israel and Syria, US Middle East envoy George Mitchel told Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday.
"Our effort to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in no way contradicts or conflicts with our goal of comprehensive peace including peace between Israel and Syria," Mitchell told the media after he met with Assad in Syria.
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"We believe strongly that a foundation of good faith negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis can and should support the entire structure of comprehensive peace," the envoy added.
Mitchell addressed Hamas's open opposition to the current peace negotiations and said, "There are some who are determined to disrupt the process. We are determined to see it through."
Mitchell's trip to Syria came as US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton left the region and shows the increased effort the US is investing in Syria, which hosts exiled Hamas leaders and supports Hizbullah.
Mitchell’s visit to Damascus came three days after Jean- Claude Cousseran, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s special Mideast envoy, met in Damascus with Assad following meetings he reportedly had in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Uzi Arad.
The US Middle East envoy was scheduled to continue on to Beirut for talks with top Lebanese leadership.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report