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Sen. John Kerry meets with Syrian president

Published Aug. 24, 2005

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry met Saturday with Syria's president and said he was hopeful that strained U.S.-Syrian relations could be improved, provided Washington seized "a moment of opportunity" in the Middle East.

The United States has accused Syria of doing too little to stop insurgents from infiltrating into Iraq to attack coalition forces. Washington also has imposed sanctions on Damascus, accusing it of seeking weapons of mass destruction and hosting Palestinian groups Washington deems to be terrorist organizations.

Syria denies the accusations but says it cannot fully control its long, porous border with Iraq.

Sen. Kerry, D-Mass., met for two hours with President Bashar Assad, then with Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa.

"I think we found a great deal of areas of mutual interest, some common concerns and some possibilities for initiatives that could be taken in the future to strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Syria," Kerry told reporters after meeting with al-Sharaa.