Obama and Middle East Diplomacy

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CBNNews.com - In his prime-time news conference Monday, President Barack Obama said he was looking forward to "constructive dialogue" with Iran and other countries.

CBN News Terror Analyst  Erick Stakelbeck says that could mean big changes in U.S. diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East, including stronger ties with Syria.

"There's been a lot of contact between the Obama administration and the Syrian government through back channels," he said.

Click the player to play watch Stakelbeck's comments as seen on CBN News weekday "Newswatch" program.  Check local listings. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation has also sold parts to Syria to help rehabilitate two jets, which Stakelbeck calls "a big step."

In the issue of peace with Israel, Stakelbeck said the possible U.S. ties with Syria could put pressure on the Israelis.

"If the Obama administration establishes some ties with Syria, you're gonna see a lot of pressure ramped up on the Israelis to also go ahead and strike some kind of peace deal with Syria," he added.

Stakelbeck says there has already been some talk in Israel of peace between Israel and Syria.

"I really don't think you'll see President Obama meet with Ahmadinejad," he said. "What I think you'll see is people like George Mitchell, maybe former Sen. Clinton, now Secretary of State. You might see people in the Obama cabinet meet with some high level Iranian government officials."

Stakelbeck said one person to watch is Ali Ardashir Larijani, who was involved in Iran's nuclear negotiations.

"I don't think anything is going to make Iran give up it's nuclear program," he said.

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