Clinton set forth U.S. policy toward Syria today, in a statement answering questions posed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "The President-Elect and I beliieve strongly that direct U.S. engagement with Syria will advance United States' interests. At this time, no decisions have been made regarding returning a U.S. ambassador to Damascus...We should engage directly to help Israel and Syria succeed in their peace efforts."

The Unitedl States and Syria have profound dilfferences on important issues, and the President-Elect and I believe that engaging dlirectly with Syria increases the possibility of making progress on changing Syrian behavior. In these talks, we should insist on our core demands: cooperation in stabilizing Iraq; ending support for terrorist groups; stopping the flow of weapons to Hezbollah, and respect 1for Lebanon's sovereignty and independence.

The President-Elect believes that we must never force Israel to the negotiating table with Syria, but neither should we ever block negotiations when Israel's leaders decide that they may serve Israeli interests. We should engage directly to help Israel and Syria succeed in their peace efforts, which both parties have indicated could help advance the talks. The prospects of success in these talks are unknown, but we are commiitted to making every effort to help them succeed.

The President-Elect and I beliieve strongly lthat direct U.S. engagement with Syria will advance Unitled States' interests. At this time, no decisions have been made regarding returning a U.S. ambassador to Damascus.

We believe that direct U.S. enagement with Syria will advance United States' interests. I plan to consullt with our chief of mission in Damascus to determine how best to carry out this principle in the context of the embassy's current structure.

The United States should continue to support efforts to uncover the truth about the assassinations [of Hariri and others in Lebanon], and to insulate these efforts from political interference. I am encouraged to see that the Tribunal will officially begin operations on March 1, but as the head prosecutor recently stated, it is unclear when the Tribunal will bring indictments. The Security Council established various safeguards to ensure an objective and expeditious judicial process. First, it includes provisions on enhanced powers, so the Tribunal may take independent measures to prevent unreasonable delays. Second, it mandated a transparent appointment process of international officials, including the judges and prosecutor. Third, it includes provisions on the rights of victims to present their views. The Security Council explicitly requested that the Tribunal be based on "the highest international standards of criminal justice," and I will work with our international allies to ensure this pledge is fulfilled. .