Hoenlein reveals secret Syria visit

Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he met for several hours with Syrian President Bashar Assad during a secret visit to Damascus.

In an interview published Monday by The Associated Press, Hoenlein said his recent one-day visit came at the invitation of Assad. The visit reportedly was several weeks before the popular uprising in Egypt, which resulted in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

Hoenlein called the mission “humanitarian,” according to the AP, and said he was not acting as an envoy for Israel.

Hoenlein did not give details of the meeting, which he said involved just him and the Syrian president without an interpreter.