(dpa) - Former US
President Jimmy Carter discussed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on
Friday Iraq's current security situation and developments in the Gaza Strip,
media reports said.
In their meeting in Syria, Carter and al-Assad stressed the importance of achieving peace in the Middle East, through finding political settlements to lift the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and lessen the sufferings of the Palestinians, Syria's SANA news agency said.
After meeting the Syrian president, Carter met with Hamas' senior leader Khaled Mashaal at his Damascus home.
In defiance of Washington's objections, the former US president discussed a Gaza ceasefire, Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip and the fate of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, according to a report posted on a Hamas website .
The report cited Mashaal's deputy, Musa Abu Mrazoque, who talked to reporters in Syria. Mashaal is the senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, which the US and Israel regard as a terrorist group.
Carter expressed his satisfaction about his meeting with al-Assad, who spoke about Syria's role in finding resolution of disputes to the major regional problems.
The former US leader stressed that he will be meeting with all Palestinian factions, SANA said.
Carter said he hoped his tour in the Middle East will contribute to the peace process in the region.
The ex-US President is heading on Saturday to Saudi Arabia to meeting with Saudi King Abdullah and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal.