Friday, August 25, 2006

U.S. Warns Syria to Observe Arms Embargo

I guess this makes the 1,736th warning now we have given to Boy Assad. Please.. By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer Thursday, August 24, 2006 (08-24) 18:32 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) -- The U.S. warned Syria on Thursday to abide by a United Nations arms embargo meant to stop Hezbollah from resupplying after its monthlong war with Israel. It dismissed Syrian objections to international peacekeepers as preposterous."All countries must obey the arms embargo" under the U.N. Security Council resolution that set a cease-fire this month, said State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos. "It is a singular duty for Syria, as the one country apart from Israel that borders Lebanon, to do so." President Bush welcomed an announcement from France that it will send 2,000 soldiers for an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon and spoke by phone Thursday to Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi as the Italians prepare to lead the international force. Syria is a Hezbollah benefactor that was largely left out of diplomacy during the 34-day war. On Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar Assad called any deployment of multinational troops along his border a "hostile" affront to Syria. "First, this means creating hostile conditions between Syria and Lebanon," Assad told Dubai Television in an interview aired Wednesday. "Second, it is a hostile move toward Syria and naturally it will create problems." The notion that the troops are a threat to Syria "is preposterous," the State Department's Gallegos said in Washington. "We call on the Syrian regime to fulfill its international obligations." Hezbollah is an Islamic militia and political organization rooted in southern Lebanon, where its power eclipsed that of the central government in Beirut before the cross-border war. Hezbollah's political and organizational prowess is again on display as Lebanese begin to rebuild shattered towns, but its military capability and future is unclear. Syria has also indicated it might impose a punitive blockade of Lebanon."They will close their borders for all traffic in the event that U.N. troops are deployed along the Lebanon-Syria border," Finland Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said after meeting his Syrian counterpart, Walid Moallem, in Helsinki. Finland holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.The Bush administration refused to talk to Syria directly during the negotiations to end the Israeli-Hezbollah fighting. In the complex diplomacy now under way to seal and strengthen the fragile U.N.-brokered cease-fire, the administration is wary of new Syrian efforts to assert control in Lebanon.The United States pulled its ambassador out of Syria last year after the assassination of a Lebanese politician who had sought to steer his nation away from three decades of effective control by Syria."We are working with the United Nations and our partners to ensure the rapid deployment of this force to help Lebanon's legitimate armed forces restore the sovereignty of its democratic government throughout the country and stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a state," Bush said Thursday. France, along with the United States, helped draft the cease-fire deal allowing for expansion of an existing U.N. force from 2,000 troops to up to 15,000. France's commitment of troops to establish a buffer zone between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas has been closely watched in other countries.

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