In a new interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Syrian ambassador Imad Moustapha said that Syria is “doing everything possible within our means” to stop insurgents from crossing into Iraq, and decried the recent U.S. strike into Syria as a “terrorist, criminal act.” Most interestingly, Moustapha said that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) personally assured him that a McCain presidency would open up a dialogue with Syria:
FP: U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama says that he would be willing to sit down with states that are now considered enemies of the United States. Is that encouraging to you?
IM: I have reason to believe that even if [Senator John] McCain becomes president of the United States, he will also be inclined to sit and talk with Syria. I can tell you this on the record: Senator Joe Lieberman, who is supposed to be very close to McCain, has said this explicitly and very clearly to me personally.
This is a startling revelation, considering McCain and Lieberman have attacked politicians who have sought to engage Syria diplomatically:
— McCain adviser Max Boot denounced the Israeli government for engaging Syria, casting it as a betrayal of Lebanon. “John McCain is not going to betray the lawfully elected government of Lebanon,” Boot said.
— The McCain campaign attacked Daniel Kurtzer, an Obama adviser, for attending a legal summit in Damascus. McCain aide Randy Scheunemann accused Obama of favoring “unconditional summit meetings with state sponsors of terrorism.”
— Lieberman joined the conservative attack machine in slamming Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting Syria in 2007. “I believe her visit to Syria was a mistake, that it was bad for the United States of America,” Lieberman said. “And I say this because we’re in a war. We’re in a war against the Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9-11-01. Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism.”
Just last week, ABC News reported that McCain’s hero Gen. David Petraeus sought to visit Syria diplomatically, but “the idea was swiftly rejected by Bush administration officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon.” (HT: Cernig)