Al-Asad: Saddam kept $200m in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad has said that Saddam Hussein's regime stashed $200 million in Syrian banks, but the money would not be returned until Baghdad settled its debts with Damascus.

    Al-Asad wants Iraq to settle its debts with Syria

    Washington suspects that the deposed Iraqi president, now in US custody in Iraq, deposited about $3 billion in state-owned banks in Syrian as well as in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

    "The operation to quantify the amount has been completed, and it is now just an accounting problem, as there is money due to Syria by the Iraqi side... that should be settled," al-Asad said in an interview with the pan-Arab al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on Monday.

    Asked if the amount of Iraqi money was around $3 billion as claimed by press reports, al-Asad said: "No, about $200 million."

    The US administration has threatened to slap sanctions on Damascus, accusing it of developing weapons of mass destruction, supporting terrorism and of involvement in anti-US attacks in Iraq.

    Tracking

    In October, Iraqi and US teams had visited Damascus in the hope of tracking down hidden Iraqi money.

    "We did not open bank accounts for them, but they were allowed to review, as experts, financial statements related to the Iraqi side, in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolution which we voted for," al-Asad said.

    US experts have also visited Beirut on a mission to trace funds after the May resolution that lifted international sanctions against Baghdad and gave control over Iraq's economy and political future to US and British occupying forces.

    SOURCE: AFP


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