7 April 2007 /REUTERS
President Bashar al-Assad met a Republican member of the US Congress on Thursday, a day after Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended a visit to Syria that was criticized by the White House.
The official news agency said the meeting between Assad and Darrell Issa, a member of the House Committee on Intelligence, discussed ways to improve relations between Washington and Damascus. "It is difficult to isolate Syria which is pivotal to finding solutions to all issues in the region," the Syrian agency quoted Assad as saying. Issa, who is of Lebanese descent, also met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem. More than a dozen US lawmakers have visited Damascus in the last four months and met Assad after the Iraq Study Group recommended to Republican President George W. Bush engaging with Damascus and Iran to help stabilize Iraq. Pelosi urged Assad on Wednesday to end alleged Syrian support to rebels in Iraq and to use its influence with the Palestinian group Hamas. Pelosi said holding a dialogue with the secular Syrian leader, whom the Bush administration has been trying to isolate, was in the US interests.