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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Bush Warns Syria on Lebanon

12 October 2005

President Bush says Syria must respect democracy in Lebanon, following the withdrawal of its troops and an on-going investigation into Syrian involvement in the assassination of a Lebanese Prime Minister. A man at the center of that investigation - Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanann - has reportedly committed suicide.

President Bush would not comment directly on the death of Mr. Kanaan, who led Syrian intelligence in Lebanon for two decades until 2003. Before his apparent suicide, the Interior Minister was questioned by U.N. officials investigating last year's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

President Bush says he does not want to prejudge that investigation, which is expected to conclude with a final report later this month.

But Mr. Bush did repeat warnings to Syria's government that it must not interfere in Lebanese affairs.

"I think it is very important for Syria to understand that the free world respects Lebanese democracy and expects Syria to honor that democracy," he said.

President Bush says it is one thing to remove all troops and intelligence services from Lebanon, which Syria did following international pressure after the Hariri assassination. Now, Mr. Bush says the world expects Syria to honor Lebanese democracy.

The president also renewed concerns about Syria's border with Iraq, which U.S. military officials say Syria is allowing to be used as an entry point for fighters battling U.S. troops in Iraq.

"We expect Syria to do everything in its power to shut down the transshipment of suiciders and killers into Iraq," he said. "We expect Syria to be a good neighbor to Iraq. We expect Syria not to agitate killers in the Palestinian territory."

President Bush says the international community is making good progress toward resolving Israeli/Palestinian violence by working toward an independent Palestinian state. He says the concern is that some countries in the region, including Syria, might try to undermine that progress by backing violence.

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