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4/14/03 - SYRIA, OTHERS HAVE CHOICE TO MAKE - 2003-04-15

Many countries have been helpful to the U.S.-led coalition in its fight to disarm the Saddam Hussein regime and liberate the Iraqi people. But some countries have been the opposite.

One is Syria. As soon as the war began, it was reported that military supplies were being sent across the border from Syria into Iraq. Now, said U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, there are reports that officials of the Saddam Hussein regime are fleeing Iraq into Syria:

“We have made clear repeatedly to the government of Syria our concern that they not allow entry into Syria of any senior Iraqi regime officials, that is, the people involved in the barbarity and the viciousness of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and that they not allow any transit of materials for that regime, to the dying elements of that regime.”

In this, as in other matters affecting peace and security, said Secretary of State Colin Powell, Syria has a choice to make:

“We believe in light of this new environment, they should review their actions and behavior, not only with respect to who gets haven in Syria, and weapons of mass destruction, but especially the support of terrorist activity.”

There is a new situation in the Middle East, said Mr. Powell, “and we hope that all the nations in the region will now review their past practices and behavior.” As Secretary of State Powell said, “This is the time for all nations to realize that terrorism is a threat to all of us and we all must do everything we can to end terrorism and also do something about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”