U.S. envoy George Mitchell says Syria has an integral role to play in
U.S. efforts to secure a comprehensive peace deal in the Middle East.
Mitchell made the comments Saturday after talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
envoy said both the U.S. and Syria are "well aware of the many
difficulties" in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but both
countries share an obligation to create conditions for negotiations to
begin "promptly and successfully."
Mitchell arrived in the
Syrian capital Friday, the latest stop on a Middle East tour aimed at
reviving the stalled Middle East peace process.
The visit also
is the latest effort by U.S. President Barack Obama's administration to
try and defuse tensions and restart diplomacy with Syria.
has long accused Damascus of supporting groups like Hamas that the U.S.
considers terrorist organizations. The United States also has voiced
concern about Syria's human rights record and its role in neighboring
The U.S. has not had an ambassador in Syria since
Syrian officials were implicated in the 2005 assassination of former
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has denied involvement in
Mitchell traveled to Syria from Beirut,
where he assured leaders a Middle East peace agreement will not come at
Mitchell also praised Lebanon's recent
parliamentary election, calling the vote an important milestone for the
country. A U.S.-backed coalition retained its majority in Sunday's
closely fought election.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.