Obama Administration Doubts Syria's Leadership

Apr 27, 2011, 07:09 by David Hope

A top U.S. State Department official said the Obama administration doubts Syrian President Bashar Assad is a future peace partner with Israel.

"Ultimately, the future of Syria is up to the people of Syria. But what is clear is that the way they are acting right now is not consistent with the way that a responsible government acts as against its own citizens or in connection with its international obligations," Jacob Sullivan, director of policy planning at the State Department, told reporters Tuesday

When asked to comment on a peace treaty between Israel and Syria, Sullivan replied the current administration continues to support a comprehensive peace deal in the Middle East that includes peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors.

"That remains a goal of this administration, and we will continue, through whatever means we have at our disposal at any given time, to pursue it," he said. "Right now at the moment our focus is on ending the violence against the Syrian people and stopping the brutal crackdown that is taking place."

Syria's "destabilizing activities in the region, including its sponsorship of terrorism and terrorist related activities is a source of deep concern for the United States," Sullivan said.

The administration is currently considering a range of options including targeted sanctions to show the Syrian government it is on the wrong track, Sullivan said.

He was unable to respond to a question on whether Hezbollah had a role in the current unrest in Syria, saying he needed to check the issue.

He added there are no current plans to withdraw Robert Ford, the recently installed U.S. ambassador to Syria, or cut ties with Damascus.

Sullivan said the Syrian ambassador to Washington was summoned to the State Department to discuss the attacks on civilian protesters.

Source: UPI