State Department: Carter Meeting With Terrorists Not 'in the Interest of Peace'
By Joseph Abrams
Former President Jimmy Carter's upcoming meeting with senior officials of the Palestinian terror group Hamas is not "in the interest of peace," according to State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
FOX News confirmed on Thursday that Carter will travel to Syria next week for an unprecedented meeting with the senior leadership of Hamas. The State Department has designated Hamas a "foreign terrorist organization," a stance McCormack reiterated.
The State Department had "counseled the former president about having such a meeting," he said. "U.S. policy is that Hamas is a terrorist organization; we don't believe its in the interest of our policy or in the interest of peace to have such a meeting."
Carter originally was slated to travel throughout the Mideast with a group of statesmen and philanthropists including Kofi Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, but Carter now will be traveling without the group.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Annan on Tuesday, according to the State Department, which would not confirm whether the Syria trip was discussed in the conversation; however, Annan pulled out of the trip after the call. A spokesman for Annan in Geneva could not be reached for comment.
FOXNews.com first reported Tuesday on an item in the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat that said Carter was preparing an unprecedented meeting with Khaled Meshal, the exiled head of Hamas who lives in Damascus.
McCormack said of the prospect of meeting with Meshal, "That’s not something that we could possibly conceive of."