Fruit de les converses de Jim Baker amb Síria.
WASHINGTON - If the Bush administration opened a dialogue with Syria it could remove a major roadblock to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, Hamas's refusal to recognize Israel, former secretary of state James Baker said Tuesday.
"We could get them [Syria] to get Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. It would be a huge step in the right direction," Baker said while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the State Department and the European Union, controls the Palestinian government folowing its election win a year ago.
Baker said the United States in talks with Syria also could get them to stop arming the Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerilla group. Hezbollah kidnapped two Israel Defense Forces soldiers in July 2006, sparking a 34-day war with Israel.
The Bush administration has been reluctant to talk to Syria, citing its support for groups like Hamas. Baker was secretary of State under Bush's father, former president George H.W. Bush.
Baker told the committee he had discussed the situation with senior Syrian officials on a trip to the country as co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel that recommended several changes in Bush's Iraq strategy.
Most of the recommendations were passed over by the administration.
The co-chair of the study group, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, said Syria has been "sending signals to us" that they want a dialog with the United States.
The study group recommended the Bush administration hold talks with Iran as well as Syria and other countries in the region as part of a diplomatic effort to end the fighting in Iraq.
Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, who held talks in Syria in December with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, said the administration has adopted the approach of an ostrich.
"And make no mistake. It is not working," he told the private Council on Foreign Relations.
Nelson said Assad had indicated an interest in discussing its border with Iraq. Nelsen said jihadists make their way into Iraq to fight U.S. troops.