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Powell Plans 'Candid' Dialogue in Syria
AP ^ | April 25, 2003 | Barry Schweid

Posted on 04/25/2003 10:21:38 AM PDT by ejdrapes

Powell Plans 'Candid' Dialogue in Syria
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) says he plans to have a "good, strong, candid" dialogue with Syrian officials when he travels to Damascus.

"We have issues with the Syrian government that I am going there to talk about," Powell said Thursday. He said they included support for terrorist organizations, development of weapons of mass destruction and a need to seal the border with Iraq (news - web sites) to stop former officials from taking refuge in Syria.

"I will not hold back the strength of our feelings on these positions," Powell said in a televised interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.

And, Powell said, "I am sure they are not going to hold back on responding."

Powell is planning a stop in Damascus, his third, as part of a trip to the Middle East, probably in early May. He will also try to prod Israel and the Palestinians back into negotiations for creation of a Palestinian state.

Appearing Thursday at a Council on Foreign Relations session, Sen. Bob Graham (news, bio, voting record), D-Fla., said Syria permits Hezbollah, which is listed as a terror group by the State Department, to train its forces in Syria as well as in southern Lebanon.

Graham, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said a significant number of Hezbollah operatives are in the United States "awaiting instruction to act."

He called on Syrian President Bashar Assad, with whom he has met, to shut down the Hezbollah operations in Syria and Lebanon.

Bouthaina Shaaban, who heads the Syrian foreign ministry's information office, said Hezbollah is an organization that fights only to end Israeli occupation of Arab lands and does not target civilians.

Graham also said there was no evidence Syria knowingly permitted officials in the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) to take refuge in Syria. In fact, he said, several of the highest-ranked Iraqi officials had been arrested there, and another top Iraqi's arrest in Syria would be announced soon.

On another front, Powell said terrorism must end if peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians is to have a chance of succeeding.

"Let's be very open and candid." Powell said. "Unless terrorism and violence stops, then it's almost impossible to get going on any process toward peace."

In a separate interview with al-Arabiya, a television station based in Dubai, Powell notified Israel and the Palestinians that he did not want to debate terms of a peacemaking road map with them when he holds talks in the Middle East.

"I don't want to spend a great deal of time arguing about the details of the road map," Powell said. "I want to see both sides, in a spirit of cooperation, in a spirit of peace, with the earnest desire to move forward, to start performing."

The road map was prepared by the United States, the United Nations (news - web sites), the European Union (news - web sites) and Russia. It calls for creating a Palestinian state, by 2005, on land now occupied by Israel.

The plan also seeks an end to all violence and a full Jewish settlement freeze in the West Bank and Gaza. It also demands that all settlements built after 2001 be dismantled.

The road map is due to be announced officially after a Cabinet selected by Mahmoud Abbas, the designated Palestinian prime minister, is approved by the Palestinian Parliament.

Powell said he had been in touch with Israeli authorities and found "they are ready and anxious to participate in moving forward with Mr. Abu Mazen," as Abbas also is known.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) has stressed terror attacks on Israel must end before he would approve negotiations with the Palestinians.

Powell said he hoped Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan, the designated security chief, "will work hard to end the violence, end the terrorism."

That, Powell said, "will create conditions that will allow us to go forward."

As for Yasser Arafat (news - web sites), the Palestinian leader the Bush administration is trying to sidestep, Powell said: "Mr. Arafat still occupies a position within the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people, and I can't remove that, and I wouldn't even try to."

At the same time, Powell said, "We do not believe that Mr. Arafat has shown the kind of leadership that is needed to take us through this crisis."

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 200304; 200305; arafat; bobgraham; hizbollah; hizbullah; palestinians; powell; statedept; syria; yasirarafat

1 posted on 04/25/2003 10:21:38 AM PDT by ejdrapes
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To: ejdrapes
Here should be the opening line of Powell's candid dialog with Syria:

"I think it is time we collected DNA samples from your leaders."

2 posted on 04/25/2003 10:30:58 AM PDT by 11th Earl of Mar
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To: ejdrapes
Powell must honestly like having his utopian head shoved into sh!t.
3 posted on 04/25/2003 10:51:54 AM PDT by onedoug
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