Syria and the United States plan to discuss bilateral
relations in the wake of American sanctions on the regime of President Bashar
The United States plans to press Syria to sever its ties to groups
deemed terrorist, withdraw from Lebanon, halt its missile and weapons of
mass destruction programs and end the flow of insurgents to Iraq. The
Bush administration has not ruled out additional sanctions against Damascus
should Assad fail to respond to these demands.
Western diplomatic sources said representatives from the two countries
plan to meet in Rome on Aug. 27, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said Syria and the United
States are expected to discuss regional issues, cooperation against Al Qaida
as well as Iraq.
"Both parties will see whether there has been any change in the
of the other side," a diplomat said.
"Syria was a major disappointment," U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking
Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, said after meeting
Syrian leaders in Damascus last week.
The diplomatic sources said the United States was also expected to
demand that Syria allow the selection of a replacement for President Emile
Lahoud, whose term expires on Nov. 24. Syria has been considering allowing
Lebanon to revise the constitution so that the pro-Syrian Lahoud could
remain in his post.