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ARAB AFFAIRS - Nov 2 - Talabani Opposes Any US Strike On Syria From Iraq.

Iraq's Pres Jalal Talabani says he will oppose the use of Iraqi territory as a launch pad for any US military strike on Syria. Talking to Asharq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News, he said: I absolutely reject that Iraqi territory be used as a launch pad for any military strike against Syria or any other Arab country. But this is my personal opinion and my capabilities are limited in confronting America's might ... I cannot impose my opinion on them". US Pres Bush said last month that military action would be a last resort to deal with Syria, which Washington accuses of allowing foreign fighters to cross the border into Iraq, where US troops are fighting an insurgency. Talabani, who also heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), had a longstanding alliance with Syria which allowed him to operate from its territory against former Iraqi Pres Saddam Hussain. He said: I will not say a word against Syria which I owe a lot to. If I have anything to say I will relay it directly to brother (Syrian President) Bashar Al-Assad".

Talabani dismissed suggestions that there were political forces, which wanted to prevent any Arab role in the country. "All political forces in Iraq wanted an effective Arab role in order to help the country overcome its problems and differences", he explained. Fears of US military action heightened following a UN investigation which implicated Syrian officials in the killing of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, an opponent of Syrian domination of his country, and 22 others in February. The report said the killing was organised by Syrian security officials and their Lebanese allies. The Security Council voted unanimously on Oct 31 for a resolution ordering Syria to co-operate fully with the UN investigation or face possible "further action". The resolution warns the council "could consider further action" if Syria does not meet demands in the resolution. Syria denies the charges and says it was conducting its own probe.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:Nov 5, 2005
Words:329
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