(AFP) – Sep 28, 2010
DAMASCUS — Syria on Tuesday hailed its "constructive dialogue" with the United States after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met her Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in New York and warned Damascus not to undermine stability in Iraq or Lebanon.
"The secretary was very direct and making clear, both in the context of Lebanon and Iraq, that we discourage any efforts to undermine the stability of either country," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley had said on Monday.
But official Syrian media made no mention of Clinton's pointed warnings, with the SANA news agency saying the two sides had agreed in New York on the necessity of continuing dialogue in order "to eliminate the obstacles hindering the normalisation of bilateral relations."
Despite a gradual warming of relations between Washington and Damascus, the State Department spokesman underlined "concerns about Syria's activities inside Lebanon and its relationship with Hezbollah."
SANA stressed that the two sides "asserted their keenness to see Lebanon stable and secure, enjoying distinguished relations with Syria."
On Iraq, SANA said Muallem and Clinton expressed their mutual concerns about security and stability there, "and about the formation of a national unity government with the participation of all parliamentary blocs."
Iraq and Syria last week re-established diplomatic relations after a year-long row in the aftermath of massive truck bombs in Baghdad.
The two countries agreed to exchange diplomats after both capitals recalled their envoys last year.
Clinton and Muallem met on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York in just the second meeting between the two ministers since March 2009, when they talked briefly in Egypt during a donors conference for the Gaza Strip.
During her New York discussions with Muallem, Clinton "affirmed our objective of comprehensive peace in the Middle East which includes the Syrian track," Crowley said.
"Foreign Minister Muallem was very interested in pursuing that," he added.
Muallem was quoted by SANA as saying that Syria was "waiting for deeds and not words from Israel, which would prove its willingness to make peace."
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