House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday shrugged off White House criticism of her upcoming trip to Damascus, saying she had "great hope" for reviving U.S. relations with Syria and changing its behavior.
20 Eylül 2018 Perşembe 18:16
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday shrugged off WhiteHouse criticism of her upcoming trip to Damascus,saying she had "great hope" for reviving U.S.relations with Syriaand changing its behavior.
Speaking hours after arriving in Lebanon,Pelosi indicated the Bush administration was singling out her trip to Syria,but ignoring the recent visits by Republican members of Congress.
"It's interesting because three of our colleagues, who are allRepublicans, were in Syriayesterday and I didn't hear the White House speaking out about that,"Pelosi said, referring to the Sunday meeting of Reps. Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts andRobert Aderholt with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.
"I think that it was an excellent idea for them to go," saidPelosi, who is to meet Syrian leaders Wednesday. "And I think it's anexcellent idea for us to go, as well."
The United States haspoor relations with Syria,accusing it of interfering in Iraqand Lebanon and sponsoringterrorists — charges that Damascusdenies. A White House spokeswoman has described Pelosi's visit to Syria as a"really bad idea."
Last year, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended the U.S. launch a diplomatic initiative with Syria, but theBush administration has rejected this.
"We think it's a good idea to establish the facts, to hopefully buildthe confidence between us," said Pelosi. "We have no illusions, butwe have great hope."
In Damascus, a state-run newspaper welcomedPelosi's visit, saying that through dialogue "a lot of misunderstandings(with the United States)could be removed."
Pelosi, who is leading a congressional delegation on a fact-finding tour ofthe Middle East, said she would speak to the Syrians about Iraq, their support for groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas —whose exiled leaders live in Damascus — as welltheir influence in Lebanon.
Pelosi and Lantos spoke after talks with Saad Hariri, the leader of the Lebanon'sparliamentary majority. He is the son of former Lebanese Prime Minister RafikHariri, who was assassinated in a car bombing two years ago — an attack manyLebanese blame on Syria.But Damascushas denied a role in the killing.
Pelosi also paid her respects at Rafik Hariri's grave in Beirut.
Pelosi met with Saniora and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a major figurein the Hezbollah-led opposition.