Rice: Ties with Syria worsen

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said ties between Washington and Damascus have worsened after the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

    The foreign secretary recalled the US ambassador to Syria

    A day after al-Hariri was killed in a massive bomb blast in downtown Beirut, Rice recalled the US ambassador to Syria for urgent consultations as a sign of US anger over the assassination.

    "We have taken those steps that we think are necessary at this point," Rice said on Tuesday, listing out her country's "growing list" of problems with Syria.

    She cited Damascus' support for "terrorism and the insurgency in neighbouring Iraq" as well as the presence of 14,000 troops in Lebanon as the major sore points.

    Blaming Syria

    "The Syrian government is unfortunately on a path right now where relations are not improving, but are worsening," she said.

    Rice held Syria indirectly
    accountable for al-Hariri's killing

    "We would hope that the Syrian government would take the opportunity of this signal from the United States to review where we are in the relationship and to try to put our relations on a better path."

    Rice, however, did not directly blame Damascus for al-Hariri's murder. But she held the Syrians indirectly accountable.

    "There is no doubt that the conditions created by Syria's presence there have created a destabilised situation in Lebanon," she said.

    The US foreign secretary was non-committal about the possibility of additional sanctions against Syria.

    "We will continue to consider what other options are at our disposal," she said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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