Walid al-Moualem
Photo: AFP
Syria says interested in peace talks with Israel
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet in New York. State Department says Damascus 'very interested' in pursuing Israeli-Syrian peace

WASHINGTON – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem is "very interested" in pursuing Israeli-Syrian peace, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Monday.


The Syrian foreign minister "was very interested in pursuing that and there was a pledge that we would develop some ideas going forward on developing that," Crowley told reporters as he briefed them on talks between Moualem and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York.


It was the first scheduled meeting between the two since Clinton took office over 18 months ago.


Moualem, who in the past served as Damascus' ambassador to Washington, has been part the efforts to start viable peace talks between the two countries for years.


The Americans are pursuing a Syrian avenue in the Mideast peace process. Washington would like to see such a negotiation channel become active, or – at the very least – make sure Syria does not hinder the Israeli-Palestinian track, by supporting terror groups operating in Lebanon and Gaza.


The Obama administration has been trying to establish a dialogue with Damascus, but the latter keeps sending it mixed signals.


Several high ranking American officials have already visited Syria since US President Barack Obama took office, including Special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, but still, the Administration's efforts to widen the gap between Syria and Iran have so far failed.


Ahead of Clinton's meeting with Moualem, the US relayed a message to Syria saying that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would not come at the expense of an Israeli peace with the entire Arab world, of which Syria is a key part.


Reuters contributed to this report




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