Rice snub for Iran and Syria

The US secretary of state wants Tehran and Damascus excluded from peace talks for Iraq.

    Rice says Syria appears to have aligned itself with
    "the forces of extremism"

    The US broke ties with Iran after students stormed the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, said on

    "I don't think that there are any magic bullets about Iraq. This is a complicated place"

    Condoleezza Rice,  US secretary of state

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    Tuesday that he was ready to talk to the US if there was a change in attitude from Washington.

    Rice was also critical of Syria, saying it was "causing problems of extraordinary proportions in Lebanon", had undermined Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and had "insulted" US allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    She said: "That is not a very good record on which to suggest that just going and talking to Syria is going to get a change in their behaviour.

    "There is no indication Syria wishes to be a stabilising force."

    The US recalled its ambassador to Syria last year after the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

    'No magic bullets'

    Rice said: "Right now, it [Syria] appears to have aligned itself with the forces of extremism.

    "I will talk to anybody, anywhere, any time, under the right circumstances if I think we can make progress.

    "But we have had, over the course of this administration, discussions with the Syrians, talks with the Syrians, envoys to the Syrians, and nothing has ever changed in their behaviour."

    She said she had been doing some "deep thinking" about US policy in Iraq but did not see any easy solutions to the violence there.

    She said: "I don't think that there are any magic bullets about Iraq. This is a complicated place.

    "They are in a very difficult time. It will take some combination of Iraqi responsibility for their politics and also ... increased responsibility for their security as well as better help from the neighbours in supporting Iraq as it makes this very difficult transition."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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