Thursday, November 02, 2006

US accuses Syria, UK secretly reaches out

From JPost, Nov. 2, 2006 0:07, by TOVAH LAZAROFF AND AP ...

The White House said Tuesday it was concerned by "mounting evidence" that Syria, Iran and Hizbullah were planning to topple the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

White House press secretary Toby Snow warned that such attempts would be viewed as a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701.
He said one motive behind Syria's actions was to prevent the Lebanese government from cooperating with the decision of an international tribunal to try those accused of assassinating former prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. Syria is suspected of involvement in the killing.

"Any such effort to sideline the tribunal will fail, however, for the international community can proceed with establishing it, no matter what happens internally in Lebanon," Snow said.

...and from Ynet News, 11.01.06, 20:50, by Associated Press ....

...In an unusually strong statement, press secretary Tony Snow said any attempt to manufacture demonstrations or use violence or physical threats against Lebanese leaders would be a clear violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and of three UN Security Council resolutions.

....When asked about the statement later by reporters, Snow said: "We're making it clear to everybody in the region that we think it ought to be hands off the Siniora government and let them go about and do their business."

The White House announcement came as Hizbullah threatened street protests to force early elections in Lebanon. Hizbullah is demanding creation of a "National unity" cabinet that would give the Islamic group and their allies veto power over key decisions.

The United States has been concerned about Syrian and Iranian actions in Lebanon for some time.

...meanwhile UK secretly reaches out to Syria, as reported in The Australian, November 02, 2006, by Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent ....

TONY Blair has made a secret attempt to restart the Middle East peace process by sending a top envoy to Damascus to reach out to the Syrian Government after years of frosty relations.

The British and Syrian governments yesterday confirmed the British turnaround, saying the Prime Minister's most senior foreign policy adviser, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, had met President Bashar al-Assad on Monday.

The US has broken off relations with Syria and accused it off fomenting trouble in Iraq and arming Israel's enemies Hezbollah and Hamas. Most European nations have also shunned senior contacts with the Syrians in recent years.

Mr Blair's unannounced initiative came a month after he vowed to devote much of his energy during his remaining months in office pursuing Middle East peace. Any breakthrough would be one of his most important diplomatic legacies.

Despite Washington's public belligerence towards Damascus, US and European diplomats privately agree that it would be a strategic coup to convince Syria to back away from its cosy ties with Iran and adopt a less hardline attitude towards Israel....

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