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latest news > news in brief > Human rights in Syria : Pelosi’s silence

Human rights in Syria : Pelosi’s silence

6 April 2007

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Damascus this week caused quite a stir. Before she even landed in Syria, the White House was calling her decision a « really bad idea ». Pelosi’s spokesman was quick to defend the visit by saying that the speaker intended to use her trip « to discuss a wide range of security issues affecting the United States and the Middle East ». No one doubts that security is essential in the region. But Pelosi appears to have committed the same mistake as other recent visitors to Damascus, who decided not to raise the issue of Syria’s appalling human rights record.

Pelosi was the most senior American public figure to visit Damascus since Colin Powell visited in 2003 as secretary of state, but she came on the heels of other high-profile visitors. Last weekend, three Republican congressmen, Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt, traveled to Syria to meet with President Bashar Assad. Last month, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, also paid a visit. The message from these various visitors has generally been consistent: Syria needs to cooperate on Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq. Read more

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