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Rice meets with Syrian FM, greets Iranian - Egypt TV

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The U.S. Secretary of State met with her Syrian counterpart Thursday in Egypt, at a summit to discuss international aid for Iraq, Egyptian TV said.
CAIRO, May 3 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. Secretary of State met with her Syrian counterpart Thursday in Egypt, at a summit to discuss international aid for Iraq, Egyptian TV said.

Condoleezza Rice met with Walid al-Moualem, for the first time since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, at the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the sidelines of an International Compact to support Iraqi institutions in exchange for political reforms.

According to media reports, Rice also "greeted" Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, but they did not discuss anything of substance, and U.S. officials could not say whether U.S.-Iranian contacts were forthcoming.

Relations between the U.S. and the two Middle Eastern countries have been strained in the past years over U.S. accusations of meddling by Damascus and Tehran in neighboring Iraq and Lebanon and supporting radical Islamists in Palestine.

Notably, Washington has accused Syria of involvement in the assassination of Lebanese ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, after which the U.S. recalled its ambassador from Damascus and barred American companies and institutions from dealing with Syria.

Iran has been under international suspicion of pursuing its own nuclear weapons program and has rejected international calls to suspend its nuclear research, claiming it seeks nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

U.S. President George Bush has included both Syria and Iran in his "axis of evil."

Last year, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group urged the U.S. administration to re-establish direct contacts with Tehran and Damascus in a bid to help stabilize Iraq.

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