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After State Department Attacked Pelosi, Rice To Meet With Syrian Leader

By ThinkProgress  

"After State Department Attacked Pelosi, Rice To Meet With Syrian Leader"

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Word of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) bipartisan delegation to Syria was first made public on March 30 during a State Department press briefing.

Spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, “In our view, it’s not the right time to have those sort of high-profile visitors to Syria… [W]e don’t think it would be appropriate for high-level visitors, even those from the Congress, to pay a visit to Syria right now.”

Apparently, one month later, the time is right to meet with Syrian officials:

A senior Iraqi official and a senior Arab diplomat say Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Egypt on Thursday or Friday.

It would be Rice’s first meeting with a Syrian foreign minister since she took over at the State Department in 2005, adding potentially significant bilateral talks to a regional session meant to help stabilize Iraq.

As Carpetbagger notes, “Literally just one month ago, the Bush administration said U.S. officials should not have contact with the Syrian government.” Vice President Cheney called Pelosi’s effort “bad behavior.” President Bush said Pelosi’s delegation was “counterproductive.” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino suggested Pelosi was visiting to “have a photo opportunity and have tea” with Syria’s prime minister.

The supreme irony: two weeks ago, President Bush reportedly pulled Pelosi aside after a meeting and “told her he did not criticize her recent trip to Syria.” Bush told Pelosi “in an unsolicited comment that it was actually the State Department that criticized her.”

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