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Pelosi Acts as Arbiter Between Israel and Syria

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Politics/story?id=2999698&page=1 Pelosi Acts as Arbiter Between Israel and Syria House Speaker Says, The Time to Leverage All Our
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2007

      Pelosi Acts as Arbiter Between Israel and Syria
      House Speaker Says, 'The Time to Leverage All Our
      Power Is Now'


      April 1, 2007 — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,
      today obliquely defended her decision to meet Syrian
      President Bashar al-Assad later this week in direct
      defiance of President Bush's policy not to engage in
      one-on-one talks with Syrian officials.

      "The time to leverage all our power is now. And the
      way to do it is through diplomacy, with stronger
      sanctions and smarter policy," Pelosi said in an
      address to the Israeli Knesset, where she was
      dramatically introduced as "Her Excellency, the
      speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives," after a
      band played the Israeli and American national anthems.

      Pelosi did not mention her trip to Syria, but her
      meaning was clear.

      "We in Congress will do everything in our power to
      seek a policy that makes America and our friends safer
      and the region more stable by sharing responsibility
      for Iraqi stability with Iraqis and their neighbors,"
      Pelosi said.

      Her visit to Syria was given support by Israeli Prime
      Minister Ehud Olmert, who urged her to convey the
      message to Assad that Israel would be willing to hold
      talks with Syria — if Syria would take steps to stop
      supporting terrorism. But he also said Israel would
      not talk with Syria under current conditions.

      White House spokesman Dan Bartlett today expanded on
      deputy spokesman Dana Perino's statement that visiting
      Syria was "a really bad idea."

      "We don't believe we should be sending these types of
      mixed signals to the leaders of a country that is on
      the state sponsor of terrorism list," Bartlett said on
      CBS' "Face the Nation" program.

      The speaker's visit marks the latest split in a
      government with dueling foreign policies, one from the
      White House and another from Pelosi and newly
      empowered Democrats on Capitol Hill.

      Last week, the Senate joined the House in setting a
      deadline for American troops to withdraw from Iraq.
      Bush vowed to veto both bills.

      Pelosi was defiant, saying, "Calm down with the
      threats. There is a new Congress in town. We respect
      your constitutional role. We want you to respect

      Lee Hamilton, the former congressman who also
      co-chaired the Iraq Study Group, said Pelosi's visit
      is just the kind of diplomacy with Iraq's neighbors
      that the group recommended to the president in

      "Speaker Pelosi and the other members of Congress with
      her are taking an important and positive initiative,"
      Hamilton said in an interview with ABC News. "It's a
      sign of good sense. You talk to people to try and
      resolve problems. If you don't talk to people you're
      not going to resolve the problem."

      Syria's president agreed in a recent interview with
      ABC's Dianne Sawyer.

      "First of all, the problem in Iraq is political,"
      Assad said. "We're not the only player, we're not the
      single player, but we are the main player in this

      This week the State Department warned that 90 percent
      of the suicide bombers in Iraq enter the country by
      crossing the Syrian border.

      "Nancy Pelosi, having undercut our troops in the
      field, is now going off to Syria to pay her respects
      to Bashar Assad, who's allowing terrorists to come
      across the border to kill American troops," Bill
      Kristol said on "Fox News Sunday."

      The Bush administration has ruled out one-on-one talks
      with Syria, but not ruled out all contact. U.S.
      diplomats will join in talks Iraq has called for next
      month with its neighbors, including Syria.
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