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Syrian official visit to D.C. part of continuing dialogue -- official

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (KUNA) -- The U.S. affirmed here Tuesday that the visit of Syrian deputy foreign minister Faysal al-Meqdad to D.C. is part of a "continuing" dialogue which it has opened with the Syrian government earlier this year.
Assistant Secretary of State for public affairs P.J Crowley told reporters that this visit is "part of a continuing dialogue that we've opened with the Syrian government, again, earlier this year with visits by Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman and NSC Senior Director Dan Shapiro." He added that "Obviously there also have been visits by U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell." He indicated that a wide range issues are discussed but refused to detail them.
"We'd like to use these encounters, whether they're in Damascus or here in Washington or in New York, obviously, to increase our understanding on both sides," he affirmed.
Crowley stressed that "there's a number of common issues that we have a joint interest in, in the region, and I'm sure that we will have been discussing them during the course of this week." The Syrian official met with deputy Secretary of State for management and resources Jacob Lew and is expected to meet with other officials as well.
The US State Department announced in June that its ambassador would be restored to Damascus without giving a date and announced last July its intention to ease Syrian purchase of American exports restricted by US sanctions such as spare aircrafts parts, information-technology products and telecommunications equipments. (end) si.rk KUNA 300018 Sep 09NNNN