U.S. to continue sanctions against Syria
The United States will continue its sanctions against Syria due to its support for militants in the region, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Friday, Xinhua reported.
"The president (Barack Obama) felt it was necessary to take these measures. These are not new sanctions," Wood told reporters.
"We still have some very serious concerns about Syrian behavior and activity in the world. ... We've said to you before our concerns about what Syria is doing in Iraq, its support for terrorist groups," Wood said.
Despite the continued U.S. sanctions against Syria, Wood said that Washington remains expecting to engage Damascus.
"We're willing to engage them in a dialogue to try to address not only our concerns but concerns that they may have. ... We have some very serious problems with the government of Syria. And we hope to be able to try to work out those differences, but a lot of it is going to be up to Syria," the spokesman added.
U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Damascus on Thursday and the two sides discussed bilateral relations and means of enhancing ties within the framework of dialogue.
The United States has been urging Syria to play a positive role in the Middle East, including to make enough effort to stop anti-U. S. militants and weapons from entering Iraq, and to promote peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The United States froze diplomatic relations with Syria following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Washington blamed it on Syria while Syria denied the accusation.