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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal 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
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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]
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