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17 February 2005

Bush Voices U.S. Expectations for Syria

Says diplomacy is tool for dealing with Iranian nuclear issue

By Phillip Kurata
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- President Bush says he expects Syria to take a number of actions "aimed at making the world more peaceful."

Speaking to reporters in Washington February 17 after announcing the nomination of John Negroponte as director of national intelligence, Bush said he expects Syria to:

-- Make sure that its territory is not used by former Iraqi Ba'athists "to spread havoc and kill innocent lives."

-- Find and return to Iraq former supporters of Saddam Hussein's regime.

-- Prevent its territory from being used by international terrorist groups.

-- Adhere to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the removal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, and support free and fair elections in Lebanon.

"These are very reasonable requests, the requests all aimed at making the world more peaceful.  I look forward to working with our European friends on my upcoming trip to talk about how we can work together to convince the Syrians to make rational decisions," Bush said.

President Bush has recalled his ambassador to Syria, Margaret Scobey, for consultations following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.  The Bush administration says Hariri's assassination has shown that Syria's stated reason for stationing troops in Lebanon -- to provide stability -- is not valid.

"[T]his is a country that isn't moving with the democratic movement," Bush said.

The president says he supports an international investigation to determine who killed Hariri.

With regard to Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons program, Bush said the United States is working with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Europeans and Iran to make sure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. 

The president said the United States will support Israel if it feels threatened by Iran.

"[I]f I was the leader of Israel, and I listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs ... that regarded my security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon," Bush said. "[W]e will support Israel if ... their security is threatened."

Contrasting the security threats posed by Iran with the previous security threat from Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the president said the Iranian nuclear issue has not reached the U.N. Security Council and the United States is using diplomacy to try to resolve it.

Commenting on the growth of democracy in the Middle East, Bush said democracy develops at different speeds in different countries.

He said a democratic Palestinian state at peace with Israel is "within reach."

With regard to Iraq, he said he hopes that Iraq will continue to make progress in providing for its own security and writing its constitution.

The president said he was pleased to see that Saudi Arabia held municipal elections recently.

"I think that [Saudi] Crown Prince Abdullah's vision of moving toward reform is coming to be," Bush said.

The president said he will share his sense of optimism and enthusiasm for what is happening in the Middle East during his upcoming visit to Europe.

"[T]hose values of human rights, human dignity, and freedom are the core of our very being as nations," Bush said.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



This page printed from: http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2005&m=February&x=20050217163755cpataruk0.9965937&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html



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