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Bush Slams Syria for Interference in Iraq, Lebanon

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2005 – President Bush today accused the Syrian government of looking the other way as suicide-bent insurgents flow across its border into Iraq to commit mayhem.

"We expect Syria to do everything in her power to shut down the transshipment of suiciders and killers into Iraq. We expect Syria to be a good neighbor to Iraq," Bush said during a White House press conference that included outgoing Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Poland has sent troops to support coalition efforts in Iraq.

Syria, which has a one-party Baathist government, also appears to be guilty of continued meddling in Lebanon, Bush said. This circumstance, he said, runs contrary to the opinion of responsible nations in the free world.

"It's very important for Syria to understand that the free world respects Lebanese democracy and expects Syria to honor that democracy," Bush said.

Bowing to international pressure, the Syrians recently removed their troops and intelligence services from Lebanese territory. However, an ongoing U.N. investigation, the Mehlis Report, points to possible Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri.

Bush declined to comment on possible implications for Syria if it had anything to do with Hariri's death, citing the need to wait for the Mehlis Report's conclusions. Meanwhile, the world "expects Syria to honor the democracy in the country of Lebanon," he said.

Free nations also "expect Syria not to agitate killers in the Palestinian territories," Bush said, noting there's been "good progress toward peace in the Holy Land."

Yet, Bush reiterated his concern that "foreign countries, such as Syria, might try to disrupt the peace process through encouraging terrorist activities."

Meanwhile, the United States continues to work with friends and allies to send a clear message to the Syrian government that "there are expectations involved for countries that want to be accepted in the international community," Bush said.

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