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2 senators meet with Syrian leader

December 21, 2006|From the Associated Press

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — Sens. John F. Kerry and Christopher J. Dodd met with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday and discussed the need for Damascus to cooperate with efforts to stabilize war-ravaged Iraq, state media reported.

Kerry (D-Mass.) said he told Assad that the new Democratic-controlled Congress has serious concerns about issues such as the flow of "money, weapons and terrorists" through Syria into Iraq and Lebanon.

"I feel quite confident in saying this was a conversation worth having and that the administration ought to pursue it," Kerry said in a phone interview from Jerusalem, where he traveled after meeting with Assad.

Kerry has criticized the Bush administration for refusing to engage with Syria and Iran, a move that was recommended by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

The Bush administration has accused Kerry, Dodd (D-Conn.) and other senators who have met with the Syrian president of sending mixed signals and has insisted that the U.S. will not make concessions to Damascus to win its help in Iraq.

The two Democratic senators are prospective 2008 presidential candidates.

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