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Egypt doubts US threats against Syria

Gulf News
March 7, 2004

Cairo |Reuters

A senior adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said yesterday he doubted the United States would take any action against Syria beyond making threats and applying pressure, the official news agency Mena reported.

Presidential adviser Osama El Baz spoke to Mena in Paris, where Mubarak had talks on Friday with President Jacques Chirac.

"It may be a matter of going to the limits in making threats, because Syria cannot be accused of the same charges made against Iraq," said Baz, who has been among the top foreign policy decision-makers in Egypt since the 1970s.

"As far as Syria is concerned, it's a question of practising pressure," he added. "Dr. Baz ruled out any serious American inclination to carry out any action against Syria," Mena reported.

US congressional sources said on Friday that the US administration planned to impose sanctions on Syria within weeks for its support of Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups.

Several sources said the administration was leaning toward imposing economic rather than diplomatic sanctions under legislation signed by President George W. Bush in December.

The legislation, the Syria Accountability Act, bans trade in items that could be used in weapons programmes until the administration certifies Syria is not supporting "terrorist" groups, has withdrawn personnel from Lebanon, is not developing unconventional weapons and has secured its border with Iraq.

Baz also said it was premature to speculate about a possible meeting between Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Sharm El Sheikh.

 

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