Lebanon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday shrugged off White House criticism of her impending visit to Damascus, saying she had "great hope" for reviving U.S. relations with Syria and changing its behavior.
Speaking hours after arriving in Beirut, Pelosi indicated the Bush administration was singling out her trip to Syria while ignoring recent visits by Republican members of Congress.
"It's interesting because three of our colleagues, who are all Republicans, were in Syria yesterday and I didn't hear the White House speaking out about that," Pelosi said, referring to the Sunday meeting of Reps. Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.
"I think that it was an excellent idea for them to go," said Pelosi, who is to meet with Syrian leaders Wednesday. "And I think it's an excellent idea for us to go, as well."
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino stressed Monday that the Bush administration objected to all visits to Syria.
"We ask that people not go on these trips," she said. "We discourage it. Full stop."