U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Over the president’s objections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to visit the president of Syria next weekend. Pelosi’s spokesman said the meeting was inspired by the Iraq Study Group, which recommended engaging regional players—a recommendation the Bush administration has so far ignored.
The White House has criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans to stop in Syria next week during a Middle East trip that began Friday.
She will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Syria since relations deteriorated between Damascus and Washington.
The United States has accused Syria of aiding the Sunni insurgency in western Iraq with weapons and fighters. Syria also is accused of supporting the militant extremist groups Hezbollah, a Shiite political party and militia, and Hamas.
“We do not encourage and, in fact, we discourage members of Congress to make such visits to Syria,” said White House deputy spokeswoman Dana Perino. “This is a country that is a state sponsor of terror, one that is trying to disrupt the (Prime Minister Fouad) Siniora government in Lebanon and one that is allowing foreign fighters to flow through its borders to Iraq.