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Rice Broadens Indictment of Syria

May 20, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday broadened U.S. accusations that Syria was contributing to violent insurgencies in Iraq.

After a meeting with Iraq’s planning minister, Barham Salih, Rice again accused Syria of supporting terror. To that, she added an allegation that Syria may also be providing financial support for insurgents as well as ``allowing its territory to be used to organize terrorist attacks against innocent Iraqis.″

Moreover, Rice said, Syria was supporting Palestinians trying to undercut cooperation with Israel on a projected withdrawal from Gaza.

For months, the State Department has complained that Syria was not guarding its borders to prevent infiltration of fighters into Iraq. ``We are concerned in particular about Syrian behavior on its own border,″ she said Friday.

``This is a historic but difficult time, and neighbors must do everything that they can to support the process in Iraq,″ she said at a joint news conference with Salih.

At the same time, Rice said the Bush administration would do ``anything that we can″ to support the Iraqi government.

But she stressed that the United States was restricted to a supportive role since Iraq had a sovereign and democratically elected government.

Rice went to Iraq last weekend and her deputy, Robert Zoellick, has been there twice recently.

But Rice dismissed any suggestion the United States was taking a more hands-on approach in the affairs of the frail Iraqi government and deepening U.S. involvement in running the country.

``These are decisions that Iraqis are taking,″ Rice said, ``and I want to be very clear that this is an Iraqi process.″

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