Concerns on Iran, N. Korea led to Obama Syria outreach


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Concerns about Syria’s relations with Iran and North Korea led the Obama administration to establish a dialogue, a spokesman said.

"There have been some indications of cooperation," Philip Crowley, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said Friday when asked about reports of Syrian missile exercises with Iran and North Korea. "There’s a relationship between Syria and Iran. It’s of concern to us. It’s a concern to others in the region. It’s one of the reasons why we have reopened dialogue with Syria.

"Likewise, there are reports of cooperation between Syria and North Korea. We have the same concerns. So this is one of the reasons why we have made the decision we’ve made to resume dialogue with Syria, to eventually return an ambassador to Syria, so we can have a detailed and lengthy and comprehensive discussion."

The Bush administration cut off Syria because of its weapons development, its backing for terrorist groups, and its meddling in Lebanon and Iraq. President Obama has extended Bush-era sanctions but also has intensified diplomatic outreach.

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