U.S. slams Syria over support to “terror” groups
With Syria's foreign minister presiding over the U.N. Security Council, the United States strongly criticized Syria's support for “terrorist” groups and demanded it condemn Palestinian suicide bombings, diplomats said.
The Syrian minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, denied Thursday that Syria supported terrorists, saying his country didn't have the means, financial or otherwise, to arm or give resources to terrorist groups, council diplomats said, according to AP.
Syria holds the council's rotating presidency for June, and al-Sharaa followed a council tradition of foreign ministers coming to New York to preside.
Colombia's U.N. Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte's speech was tough. Al-Sharaa responded by denying any terrorist connections, Valdivieso added.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who also addressed the council meeting, said the Syrian minister "did indicate that, obviously, he is against the killing of innocent civilians, but raised the question of the helplessness of the Palestinians, and indicated that they are not the only ones guilty of harming civilians."
Negroponte told al-Sharaa that Syria should be more active in condemning recent suicide attacks on Israeli civilians, council diplomats said. He also said Syria should call for the infrastructure that supports “terrorist” groups like Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad to be dismantled, the diplomats said.
In his speech to the council, Annan called for three key issues to be tackled urgently: Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory; the absence of security for Israel and continuing “terrorist” attacks; and the dire humanitarian and economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"We need clear and achievable time frames" to arrive at a permanent settlement, Annan said. Annan said the sooner an international conference on the Mideast can be put together "the better." (Albawaba.com)
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