Bush warns Syria over Lebanon, Iraq
12 Oct 2005 17:59:28 GMT
By Caren Bohan
WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - President George W.
Bush declined to comment on the suicide on Wednesday
of a top Syrian official who had been questioned by a
U.N. probe about the assassination of a former
Lebanese prime minister, but underscored U.S. concerns
that Syria is still far too involved in Lebanon.
Bush also repeated U.S. warnings to Syria that it
should do more to stop foreign fighters from crossing
its border into Iraq.
Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan committed
suicide in his office, according to Syria's state news
agency. He had been questioned three weeks ago by a
U.N. team probing the February assassination of former
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
The U.N. team, led by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis,
is expected to submit its report on Oct. 21.
"I don't want to prejudge the report that's coming out
-- the Mehlis report," Bush told reporters when asked
about Kanaan's death and its implications for the
investigation into Hariri's assassination.
But he added, "It's one thing to have been asked to
remove troops and all intelligence services. Now the
world wants for -- expects -- Syria to honor the
democracy in the country of Lebanon."
Shortly before news of Kanaan's suicide broke,
President Bashar al-Assad told CNN Syria was not
involved in Hariri's death and that he could never
have ordered it.
If the U.N. probe concludes Syrians were involved,
those people would be regarded as traitors who would
be charged with treason and face either an
international court or the Syrian judicial process,
CNN quoted Assad as saying.
Bush underscored warnings given last month to Syria by
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, who
said "patience is running out with Syria" for failing
to stop foreign fighters from crossing over into Iraq.
"We expect Syria to do everything in her power to shut
down the transshipment of suiciders and killers into
Iraq," Bush said.
"We expect Syria to be a good neighbor to Iraq. We
expect Syria not to agitate killers in the Palestinian
territories," he added.
Syria has blamed the United States for the
infiltration of insurgents into Iraq, saying that
Washington had failed to secure the other side of the
Iraqi-Syrian border or give technical help it had