Syria says stretching 'sincere hand' to U.S. for negotiations
Bush: U.S. would consider talks with Damascus and Tehran if recommended by bipartisan commission on Iraq.
Syria on Tuesday said it was stretching a "sincere hand" to the United States and welcomed a possible change of Mideast policy.
Talks about taking a different course in Iraq that include engaging Iran and Syria to help bring peace to their war-torn neighbor have increased in Washington after last week's U.S. midterm elections resulted in Democrats gaining control of Congress.
U.S. President George W. Bush's chief of staff has said the White House would consider talking with Damascus and Tehran if a bipartisan commission studying how to deal with Iraq recommends it.
Syria is "stretching its sincere hand and is waiting for the reactions of the others as the ball is in their court," the government paper Tishrin said in an editorial.
"Striking are the consequent statements that have been released in the past few days on the need for dialogue with Syria and handling the whole regional issues," the editorial said.
But it also questioned whether the suggestions would change policy.
"Is there any positive change in the U.S. stand that could correct mistakes that have accumulated, and whose consequences have harmed the U.S. and tarnished its image worldwide?" the editorial said. "Or are they (statements) no more than attempts to throw dust in the eyes and to keep the situation in the region unresolved for the next years?"
Syrian-U.S. relations have been strained for long years after Washington accused Damascus of aiding terrorism because of its support for radical Palestinian groups based in the Syrian capital.
Washington accuses Syria of supporting the Iraqi insurgency by allowing would-be fighters to cross its border into Iraq. Syria says it is doing all it can to police the long desert border but it cannot control the frontier absolutely.
The United States withdrew its ambassador to Syria after the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which many Lebanese blamed on Syria. Damascus denies any role in the killing.