US official for Iraqi refugees meets Syrians for talks on assistance

The US top coordinator for Iraqi refugees held talks Tuesday with Syrian officials on the situation facing more than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees here and what America could do to help Syria cope with the large number, the official SANA news agency reported. James Foley, appointed September 19 by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as senior coordinator for Iraqi refugees, met Syrian deputy foreign minister Faysal Mekdad, SANA said. Despite chilly Washington-Damascus relations dating back to the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a massive truck bomb in Beirut that has been blamed on Syria, US officials involved in refugees affairs have visited here. SANA said that Mekdad briefed Foley on the "the major efforts exerted by the Syrian government to meet the needs of Iraqi refugees" and stressed that the international community and other concerned parties should shoulder their responsibility on this issue.