Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida spends an hour with Asad, the first of a line of US senators to visit Damascus
Although the state department frowned on the visit, the first by a US lawmaker since the breach between Washington and Damascus, Nelson received US embassy transport for the trip from Jordan to the Syrian capital, after first meeting Israeli and Palestinian officials. The senator reported Assad indicated willingness to cooperate with the Americans and or the Iraqi army, which Nelson called “a crack in the door for discussions to continue.”
He urged the Syrian ruler to support the release of captured Israel soldiers, to which Asad replied that Israel held 20 Syrians in captivity, one of whom, he said, died recently of leukemia.
Senator Nelson said he was not interested in visiting Iran at this time. He expected to be followed to Damascus by senators John Kerry, D-Mass., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. And Arlen Specter, R-Pa.