Syria warns US of 'expansionist' Israel

Syria has demanded an even-handed US policy to find a solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict and accused Israel of "terrorising" Arabs to achieve its expansionist goals.

    President Assad tells Washington to look at the bigger picture

    "It would be wise for the United States, the world's only superpower, to concentrate on viable political solutions," President Bashar al-Assad told US Assistant Secretary of State William Burns during a brief visit to Syria.

    "The picture should be looked at in full and not be fragmented to emphasise only the Arabs' part ... It is not acceptable (for Washington) to overlook the killings and assassinations that Israel carries out," he said.

    In Washington, the State Department said Burns urged Assad to rein in support for resistance groups like Hizb Allah, which recently launched attacks on the Israeli-Lebanon border.

    Spokesman Tom Casey said Burns made the visit at short notice to deliver the message to Syria, the main power-broker in Lebanon.

    New violence

    "The United States sees Syria was right in its stances and sincere in its drive for ... peace."

    Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesperson

    Eight months of calm in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area ended on Friday, with rocket and mortar attacks at an Israeli post there. The attacks followed the killing of a Hizb Allah member in a Beirut car bomb the group blamed on Israel.

    Guerrillas also killed an Israeli teenager on Israel's northern border on Sunday with anti-aircraft fire, the first fatality from such shelling since Israel withdrew from South Lebanon in May 2000 after a 22-year occupation.

    Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Buthaina Shaaban told reporters that "the region's issues can be better served through a better (US) understanding of the Syrian position."

    She rejected views that the Assad-Burns talks signalled more tension between Damascus and Washington. "The talks were constructive ... The US-Syrian dialogue shows that the United States sees Syria was right in its stances and sincere in its drive for just and comprehensive peace."

    Damascus has repeatedly accused Israel of trying to derail peace efforts in the Middle East and of seeking to hammer a wedge between Damascus and Washington.

    Israeli 'falsehoods'

    Syria accused Israel in a letter to the United Nations published on Thursday of distorting facts in a complaint the Jewish state lodged with the world body after the Hizb Allah attack on Sunday.

    Syria said the Israeli complaint was based on falsehoods to justify "terrorism" and charged that Israel "is continuing its aggression to achieve its expansionist purposes at the expense of the Arab people."

    Syria sees Hizb Allah and anti-Israeli Palestinian groups as freedom fighters, while Israel and Washington describe them as terror groups.

    Assad brushed aside as secondary US and Israeli demands that Syria curb the anti-Israel Palestinian factions it hosts and told Burns that Washington should find a solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees instead.

    "There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Syria and these organizations represent the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people in liberation and independence," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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