Syrian Foreign Minister at Annapolis: What a Difference Six Months Makes

I want to commend the Administration for conducting a sober, serious, and hopeful conference on Middle East peace today. The task ahead is difficult, but the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue launched by today's conference creates new possibilities that the obstacles will be overcome. One thing is absolutely clear: there can be no peace without dialogue.

In that regard, I was particularly pleased that the Administration invited Syria -- albeit under the guise of its membership in the Arab League "Follow-Up Committee ." And I am pleased that Syria chose to accept the invitation. This invitation constitutes recognition by the Administration that the only hope for peace with Syria is through dialogue, not isolation.

This recognition is belated at best. After all, last spring, the White House press operation vehemently denounced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for actually wanting to speak with Syrians in Damascus.

The Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the conservative talk radio circuit went apoplectic. As did, I am sorry to say, the Washington Post editorial board, which called the Speaker's visit "counterproductive and foolish." It was neither. (The critics conveniently ignored the fact that three Republican Members of Congress met with the Syrian President the day before he met with the Speaker, and two more Republicans were in to see him the day after her visit.)

I'm delighted that the Administration, however indirectly, has now acknowledged the error of its ways and has come around to embrace the idea of dialogue. I can only hope it continues down this path -- with Syria, with Iran, and with others.