(dpa) - The US government has objected to possible plans by former president Jimmy Carter to meet with Hamas leadership when he travels next week to the Middle East.
Carter departs Sunday for a week-long trip to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in an effort to support peace efforts in the region.
"If he decides to travel to Syria, we will provide full support befitting a former president of the United States while he is in Syria," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.
"One thing we will not do, however, is have the Department of State, in any way, engage in any sort of planning related to a meeting with Hamas," McCormack said.
The Carter Centre in Atlanta, Georgia did not confirm that the former president plans on meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, as had been reported in the Washington Post.
The United States views Hamas as a terrorist organization and has sought to isolate the militant group. US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch spoke with Carter to brief him on the US position.
"We counseled against it," McCormack said.