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Kerry to meet Assad in Syria

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Sen. John Kerry will meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad next week in Damascus.

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be part of a congressional delegation visiting both Israel and Syria, according to media reports. Kerry’s spokesman said the Assad meeting would be "part of a continuing dialogue he’s had with the Syrian government." The senator previously visited Syria in December 2006.

A Syrian foreign ministry spokeswoman told CBS News that Kerry is "so welcome."

"We have always called for deep dialogue with Washington to put our relations on the right track, which would serve bilateral interests, security and stability," said Bushra Kanafani. "We are hoping that through such visits a new phase will start between the two countries."

The Obama administration is aware of the trip and the State Department reportedly is helping to arrange the visit.

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