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Republican Congressman Visits Syria After Controversial Pelosi Trip


A Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives has held talks in Syria - one day after the Democratic leader in that chamber sparked controversy by visiting Damascus.

Congressman Darrell Issa of California met in the Syrian capital Thursday with President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. Issa is of Lebanese descent, and is a member of President Bush's Republican Party.

Issa told reporters that members of Congress will continue to urge the Bush administration to hold a dialogue with Syria.

The White House sharply criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria Wednesday, saying the California Democrat was undercutting efforts to isolate Damascus.

White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe said Thursday that the administration does not think it is productive or useful for members of Congress of either party to hold talks with Syria.

Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Syria in years. She said she carried a message from Israel that it is ready for peace talks with Syria, and that it is important to hold a dialogue with Damascus.

However, Israeli Cabinet minister Zeev Boim says if President Assad really wants peace with Israel, he needs to take actions to prove his intentions.

After her visit to Damascus, Pelosi traveled to Saudi Arabia for talks with officials there.

Pelosi and Saudi King Abdullah discussed the situation in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. She also met with members of the kingdom's advisory Shura Council.

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