Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, made the following statement after the Obama Administration announced it will dispatch two senior officials to Syria. Congressman Smith recently returned from a trip to Syria where he met with President Bashar al-Assad and discussed a fresh start to relations with Syria.

“The Obama administration’s announcement to dispatch two senior officials to Syria to begin to initiate dialogue is a positive development and signals a new direction in U.S. relations not just with Syria, but the entire Middle East. After visiting with President Bashar al-Assad a few weeks ago, it was clear that the regime seeks to begin the process of thawing its relationship with the United States and the West. While we clearly have substantial differences, we also have a number of mutual interests in the region and we should begin to discuss all of these issues.

 “The Administration is mindful of the challenges we face and does not believe they will be easy to overcome, but the road to solving our problems starts with dialogue. Syria can help or hinder the prospects of peace and stability in the region and it’s our job to persuade them to be a positive partner.  Sending senior officials from the Administration to initiate dialogue is a step in the right direction.”