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US to Pursue Ties with Syria Despite Missile Allegations


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it is important for the United States to return an ambassador to Syria, despite allegations that Damascus has sent Scud missiles to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Clinton says the presence of a U.S. ambassador would give Washington better insight into what is happening in Syria.

She says sending an envoy to Damascus would not be a reward for the Syrians, noting that their alleged moves to aid Hezbollah are "deeply troubling."

Clinton - who spoke on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Estonia - did not confirm reports that Syria has been providing Hezbollah militants with Scud missiles that could be used against Israel.

The Obama administration has reached out to Syria in the past year by nominating the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus since 2005 and sending top diplomats to meet with the Syrian president.

Israel has accused Syria of delivering missiles to Hezbollah. Syria has denied the allegations, saying Israel is looking for an excuse to attack.

The United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist group.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006 that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese and about 160 Israelis. During the war, Hezbollah fired thousands of missiles into Israel.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters..

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