Report: Ex-U.S. president Carter to meet with Hamas leader in Syria
Carter confirms Fox report he's planning trip to Syria, doesn't deny possible meeting with Khaled Meshal.
The U.S. news network Fox reported Wednesday that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter is planning to meet exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus in 10 days.
Carter's press secretary Deanna Congileo confirmed the report that the former president is planning a trip to Damascus, first published by the London-based Arabic-language daily Al Hayat, and did not deny a possible meeting with the Hamas leader.
"President Carter is planning a trip to the Mideast next week; however, we are still confirming details of the trip and will issue a press release by the end of this week," wrote Congileo. "I cannot confirm any specific meetings at this point in time."
The planned meeting between the former president and the leader of Hamas, a militant group classified by Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist organization, has drawn harsh criticism among American officials. Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton criticized Carter's judgment, calling the move "typical" and saying that "to go to Syria to visit Hamas at this point is just an ill-timed, ill-advised decision on his part."
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack once said of the prospect of meeting with Meshal, "that's not something that we could possibly conceive of," Fox reported.
In 2006, Carter sparked a heated debate with the release of his book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" published by Simon & Schuster. In this book Carter argues that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East."