Assad tells US senators Syria committed to peace
Diplomatic sources tell Saudi newspaper that during meeting with Arlen Specter and Patrick Kennedy Assad stressed importance of bolstering ties between Washington and Damascus, but ruled out possibility of comprehensive peace next year due to US elections
Saudi newspaper Al-Watan quoted diplomatic sources Monday as saying that during talks held in Damascus with American senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Kennedy, Syrian President Bashar Assad stressed the importance of bolstering his country's ties with the US and said Damascus was committed to peace as a "strategic choice".
However, Assad ruled out the possibility of a comprehensive peace agreement in the coming year due to the presidential elections in the US.
Specter and Kennedy said Syria's role in the peace process was vital and called on President George W. Bush to be forthcoming in his dealings with Syria, the report said.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stressed during a separate meeting with the senators the "importance of the dialogue between the US and Syria," saying it was based on "mutual respect".
In response to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's announcement on Sunday that his government would suspend diplomatic contacts with Syria until Paris has proof that Damascus was working for a consensus president in Lebanon, Syrian Information Minister Dr. Mohsen Bilal said the countries were trying to resolve the dispute.