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US Envoys Stop in Jordan En Route to Syria

Two senior U.S. officials have held talks in Jordan, the first stop of a Mideast trip that will take them to Syria this week.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro of the National Security Council met with Jordan's foreign minister in Amman. The official Petra news agency said the talks focused on issues including the Palestinian territories and U.S.-Jordanian relations.

The two will go on to Syria, a visit that could possibly signal a new direction in Middle East diplomacy by U.S. President Barack Obama's administration.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Monday that representatives of the White House and State Department would travel to Damascus to discuss a number of bilateral issues.

A U.S. senator who visited Damascus in February said there is an opportunity to improve U.S.-Syrian relations. However, Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland told VOA's Kurdish Service that in order for improvements to take place, Syria must stop financing and supporting terrorist activities.

The U.S. has not had an ambassador in Syria since former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in 2005.

Washington has long accused Syria of supporting groups the U.S. considers terror organizations. The U.S. has also voiced concern about Syria's human rights record and its role in neighboring Lebanon.

However, in recent weeks, Syria's ambassador to the U.S. has met with top State Department officials.