Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wants heavy U.S. pressure on Syria to oust Palestinian groups from Damascus and Hizbullah fighters from southern Lebanon.
In remarks published on Tuesday, Sharon described the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, as "dangerous" and prone to miscalculation.
In the interview with the Tel Aviv-based Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Sharon repeated charges he made before the start of the U.S.-led war on Iraq that Baghdad had moved military equipment to Syria on the eve of the conflict, either to hide the weapons from U.S. forces or to transfer them to Hizbullah.
Calling for "very heavy" U.S. pressure on Syria, Sharon said it did not necessarily mean "going to war, but diplomatic and economic pressure".
He listed five demands that Israel wants the United States to raise with Syria:
-- The removal and dismantling of "Palestinian terrorist organizations" operating out of Damascus -- Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
-- The ouster of Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
-- An end to Syrian cooperation with Iran, including attempts to transfer arms to the Palestinian Authority and incite Israeli Arabs.
-- The deployment of the Lebanese Army along Lebanon's border with Israel and the ouster of Hizbullah from the area.
-- The dismantling of the surface-to-surface missile network that Israel charges Hizbullah has built in southern Lebanon.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )