Images of the Democrat speaker of the US House of Representatives meeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are exactly what the White House did not want the world to see. Nancy Pelosi met Assad this morning. Television pictures showed her chatting amiably with the leader of a country the White House has classed as “evil.”
The Syrian media has painted her visit as a chance to relaunch talks between the two countries. President Bush did not want that message sent, deeming it contradictory to the White House boycott of Assad’s regime, which the Bush administration claims is supporting terrorism.
But Pelosi’s trip, following on from other lower level Democrat contacts in recent months, was spurred by the US bi-partisan Iraq Study Group calling for a greater diplomatic effort with Syria. Washington’s boycott of Syria followed the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in February 2005.