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Rice wins G-8 support to isolate Syria

Al Jazeera | June 24, 2005

Condoleezza Rice attends the G-8 meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London

The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice won support from the Group of Eight foreign ministers over Syria, as Washington stepped up its efforts to isolate Damascus on the international level.

The U.S. has repeatedly accused Syria of allowing fighters to cross into Iraq, fomenting instability in Lebanon and supporting anti-Israeli resistance groups.

On Thursday, Rice repeated the warning at a Group of Eight (G-8) meeting in London, calling for less words and more action.

"This is a government that can take action on its border to prevent these cross-border activities which are really contributing dramatically to insecurity in Iraq," she said after the G-8 meeting. "So, if they are prepared to do it, they should just do it."

The G-8 issued a statement at the end of the meeting calling on "Lebanon's neighbors, in particular Syria, to cooperate in ensuring full compliance with (a UN resolution) and to contribute actively to regional security and stability,”

The United States also claimed that it is "certain" that Syria still has intelligence agents operating in Lebanon.

Syria pulled out all its forces from Lebanon in April to end a 29-year presence. But a top U.S. official, who demanded anonymity, alleged that "Syrian military intelligence have stayed behind and are asserting a very negative influence."

Meanwhile, Syria said it will ask the Iraqi government to provide evidence of the U.S. claims of cross-border activity, and vowed to prove that they are false to open a "new page" with Iraq.

“We will counter any accusation by evidence and facts and take this to the highest level,” Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al Sharaa told reporters in Damascus, adding that Syria would “very soon” reopen its embassy in Baghdad.

"We will be contacting officials in Baghdad very soon to know the source and truth of these allegations," Sharaa said, adding that they would ask for documents and evidence.

He also said that Syria was "ready to co-operate and open a new page with Iraq", but noted that Damascus is not ready to "hear every now and then accusations that may not have a basis of truth,"

"We want to confirm by words and deeds how accurate these accusations are and what solutions could be found."

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