US seeks Syrian cooperation on Iraq border

Jan. 2, 2005 at 11:29 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Sunday there has been progress in Syria's control of its border with Iraq but more needs to be done.

Following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa in Damascus, Armitage said while Syria has managed to do much to prevent insurgents from infiltrating into Iraq, the government needs "more effort concerning elements of the former Iraqi regime who take part in activities in Iraq, and who enter and leave Syria."

Armitage said the Syrian leadership agreed with Washington "on the need to hold the Iraqi elections on time and for the participation of all Iraqis in the polls," scheduled for Jan. 30.

He said the message he was carrying from Washington included the "need for Iraq to have friendly relations with Syria in the future and for the Syrians to be committed to such a friendship."

Armitage also urged Damascus not to interfere in Lebanon's parliamentary elections next spring, adding he discussed with the Syrian leadership the need to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 calling on all foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon.

He also called on Damascus to support the new Palestinian leadership, which will emerge after the Jan. 9 elections.

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