US ready to meet with Syrians visiting capital, if requested

The top US diplomat for the Middle East will meet with Syrian officials and intellectuals traveling to Washington if requested, the US State Department said Monday. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos told reporters that it was unclear who would be participating, or when a meeting with Assistant Secretary of State David Welch would take place. The US and Syria have diplomatic ties, but Syria is on the State Department's state sponsor of terrorism list. Gallegos said the US considers the trip being organized by a non-governmental organization a private visit. He said the US is still pressuring Syria to change its policies.