Pelosi begins talks with Syrian leaders

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met Syrian government officials Wednesday for talks criticized by the White House as undermining American efforts to isolate the hard-line Arab country. Pelosi and accompanying members of Congress began their day with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and were expected to see President Bashar Assad later for talks and lunch. The Californian Democrat has brushed off criticism from President George W. Bush's administration, pointing out that other members of Congress have visited Syria this month and arguing that she aimed to initiate dialogue with Assad's government and try to change its behavior.