One of the newly released WikiLeaks documents concerns a meeting between several Senators and Syrian President Asad. During the conversation, Senator Amy Klobuchar presses for Syrian assistance to pressure Iran to release the three hikers imprisoned in Iran.
From a lengthy cable describing a meeting between Syrian Bashar al-Asad and Senators Gregg, Bayh, Specter, Enzi, Cornyn, and Klobuchar on January 4, 2010:
¶12. (S) Senator Klobuchar commented that she had supported Barak Obama because of his promise to advance a new approach to international relations. While there were no easy solutions in the region, the U.S. and Syria appeared to have overlapping interests in avoiding war and in ensuring a strong and stable Iraq. From the U.S. perspective, Syria might demonstrate as a goodwill gesture its interest in better relations by helping obtain the release of three American citizens -- Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd -- who apparrently crossed into Iran while hiking in northeastern Iraq. Swiss officials had visited them, but they were isolated and the U.S. lacked information on their whereabouts and any pending charges.
¶13. (S) Asad replied he was unfamiliar with their case and requested that the Embassy send more information. Senator Specter interjected later in the conversation that the Embassy had delivered a letter to the MFA that week from the Secretary. Specter added he had personally raised the matter in Washington with Syrian Ambassador Imad Mustafa. The U.S. would view positively Syrian efforts to secure the three Americans' release, Specter said, comparing the case to the Iranian detention of UK sailors whom Syria helped to free. "We'll try our best," replied Asad, saying it would be necessary to ask about the legal aspects of the case. Specter clarified there had been no charges filed. It had started as a trespassing case, but U.S.-Iranian relations were so poor it was impossible to resolve.
I would be interested to know if there was any follow up to this conversation, if there was any effort on the part of Syria to approach Iran about their release, and whether other similar requests were made of other countries in the region with diplomatic relations with Iran. Part of the problem I have with how these documents are released and disseminated is their lack of context or followup. There's no stream, just cherry-picked pieces of information.
Still, it's a positive sign to see not one, but two US Senators putting pressure on Iran's allies in the region to release the hikers. One down, two left.