"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Bush threatens Syria with new pressure over Iraq

20 Dec 2004
Source: Reuters
By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush threatened on Monday to use new economic and diplomatic measures to pressure Syria over its suspected interference in Iraq before January elections.
"We have sent messages to the Syrians in the past and we will continue to do so. We have tools at our disposal -- a variety of tools, ranging from diplomatic tools to economic pressure. Nothing's taken off the table," Bush told a news conference.
Bush is reviewing a wide range of options, including freezing the assets of high-ranking Syrian government officials, administration and congressional officials said.
Administration officials said military options have not been ruled out. "All options are obviously on the table. We don't want to make it a military problem," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told NBC News.
"We have spoken to the Syrians as the president indicated; moreover, the Iraqi government has spoken to the Syrians. And they've taken some action. They just haven't taken sufficient action yet," Armitage said.
Bush's threat comes less than a week after he demanded that Syria and Iran stop insurgents and money from entering Iraq ahead of next month's elections.
Iraq's interim defense minister has also accused those countries of working with the network of al Qaeda Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq.
"When I said the other day that I expect these countries to honor the political process in Iraq without meddling, I meant it. And hopefully those governments heard what I said," Bush said.
Bush said he has discussed with American generals "whether or not there are former Saddam loyalists in Syria ... funneling money to the insurgents."
"We ought to be working with the Syrian government to prevent them from either sending money and/or support of any kind," Bush added.
Washington accused Syria of sending military equipment to Iraq during the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein. Since then it has claimed that Damascus lets insurgents cross its border into Iraq and harbors former officials directing insurgents.
Damascus denies those charges, and says it is doing its best to tighten control of the hundreds of miles (km) of mostly desert terrain that define its border with Iraq.
Administration officials said in October that they were considering tightening U.S. economic sanctions on Syria to put pressure on Damascus to pull its troops out of Lebanon and crack down on terrorism.
In May, Bush imposed a series of sanctions on Syria, including a ban on U.S. exports other than food and medicine. He accused Damascus of supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and failing to stop anti-U.S. guerrillas from entering Iraq

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Milton Frihetsson, 16:37


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