Rice uses Bahrain Future Forum to attack Syria
During the Forum for the Future, being hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday criticized political repression in Syria and call for the release of political prisoners there.
"We continue to support the Syrian people's aspirations for liberty, democracy, and justice under the rule of law," Rice said, according to the AP. "We would like to see an end to the arbitrary detentions of democratic and human rights activists," Rice stated. She mentioned that democracy activist Kamal Labwani was arrested at the Damascus airport Tuesday night, after returning from the United States and a meeting at the White House with President Bush's deputy national security adviser.
Rice noted that with withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon last spring, "one million citizens in Lebanon have demanded and won their independence from Syrian domination."
"It reminds us that we sit here to talk about a future of reform, a future of hope, a future in which economic prosperity and political participation can be imagined for the people from this region, and there are those who have quite another vision of what the region should look like," Rice said.
On Friday, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Euro Asian Affairs, Daniel Fareed, announced the establishment of a US$100 million Future Fund to support civil society institutions in the region.
The fund will be financed by some countries in the region, and a number of G8 and European countries, Fareed said in a press conference held in Manama. " This fund resembles the fund established by central and Eastern European companies in the 1990s", he explained. Answering a question on the fund's financial sources, Fareed said that US$ 50 million would be provided by the US, 20 million by Egypt and 20 million by Morocco. As to the budget of the Forum for the Future, the US official revealed that " it is US$ 54 million, of which 36 million come from the USA".