|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Stakeout, Sheraton Hotel
Damascus, Syria, June 13, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have just come from my condolence visit to the palace. I have, obviously, been to the palace before but the (inaudible) was quite different. As we walked in there were many delegations. We were taken for a while to a hold room, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with my former colleague Yevgeny Primakov, who was also here to pay his respects.
I then had a meeting with the delegation and Dr. Bashar. In the course of that I obviously paid condolences on behalf of President Clinton and the American people to him and to the people of Syria and I also said that his father had taken a strategic decision for peace, and Dr. Bashar said that he would continue on that same road. We then had a very brief, one-on-one meeting in which we discussed the fact that at an appropriate time we would have the opportunity to continue discussions about the peace process.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, this was the first time that you had any time with Dr. Bashar. What were your impressions of him?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well I think obviously he is in a somber mood because of the death of his father. But he is someone who, to me, seems very poised and somebody who is ready to assume his duties.
QUESTION: Do you have the expectation that Dr. Bashar is going to be the next President of Syria?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm not, again, going to comment on that. They have a process here that seems to be operating in a peaceful and orderly way.
QUESTION: Is he someone the U.S. can do business with?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Again I want to wait to see what the Syrian people and the process decides, but I was very encouraged by his desire to follow in his father's footsteps.
QUESTION: Did you talk about Lebanon or any other topics?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We did not. It was a brief meeting and we spoke generally about the importance of the region. Thank you.
|[End of Document]|