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Rice praised for meeting Syrian counterpart

A U.S. Jewish lawmaker lauded Condoleezza Rice’s meeting with the Syrian foreign minister on the sidelines of a conference in Egypt.The U.S. secretary of state spoke to Walid Moallem in Sharm el-Sheik on Thursday at an international gathering on stabilizing Iraq. The United States, which has been urging Syria to stem the flow of insurgents over its border with Iraq, says progress has been made on this front.Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, praised the meeting. “As a lifelong internationalist, Secretary Rice knows better than most the great value of face-to-face discussion, even those with whom we strongly disagree,” he said. “This is a marked improvement in the administration’s ostrich policy approach, and a tacit admission of how wrong it was last month in criticizing the speaker of the House [Nancy Pelosi] and congressional colleagues, including myself, for going to Damascus. It is infinitely better to confront in a firm but civilized way those with whom we disagree than simply to give them the silent treatment.”Rice also exchanged greetings over lunch with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, U.S. spokesman Sean McCormack said.”They said hello. It was not about substance,” Reuters quoted McCormack as saying.