United States is sending a military delegation to Syria in the coming weeks to discuss Iraq, U.S. and Syrian officials said on Wednesday.
Separately, the Obama administration's Middle East envoy George Mitchell will go to Damascus, possibly next week, to assess whether the time is right to revive talks between Israel and Syria, a U.S. official said.
The official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak on the issue, said the diplomatic moves followed a telephone call on Sunday between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed Clinton had talked about the possibility of upcoming trips by officials to Syria but said he had nothing to announce. "We want to be engaged with Syria. We want to see what is possible," he said.
Ahmed Salkini, press secretary at Syria's embassy in Washington, said a military team from U.S. Central Command would go to Damascus soon but details had to be worked out. The Pentagon had no immediate comment on such travel. Crowley said Iraq was a key issue in talks with Syria.
Salkini said Syria wanted a new relationship with the United States that focused on a broad range of issues from Iran and Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
"There must be no cherry-picking of issues but an approach that will encompass all details and all matters," he said.
The overtures follow two recent trips by senior U.S. officials to Syria, but President Barack Obama last month decided to renew sanctions.
"Those sanctions and the language that was used in the sanctions was unfortunate, inappropriate and does not reflect the truth," said Salkini.
The State Department has indicated it has no plans for now to return a U.S. ambassador to Damascus.
The ambassador was pulled out after the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Syria denies any involvement in the killing but the United States pointed fingers at Damascus.
The Obama administration is "eager" to get indirect Syria-Israel talks back on track after they were suspended following Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended in mid-January, after killing 1434 Palestinians.
Turkey had mediated the talks between Israel and Syria and Damascus has said it wants the United States to become involved if they resume.