— By Inal Ersan
DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara said
on Saturday U.S. accusations that Damascus had helped Saddam
Hussein's Iraq were baseless and challenged Washington to provide
Senior figures in President Bush's administration have accused
Syria in recent weeks of providing military help to Saddam.
Shara said Syria was not taking seriously what he called
"threats" from the Bush administration because "they do not
represent the general view in the United States."
"These (threats and accusations) are based on allegations that
are baseless," Shara told a joint news conference with visiting
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.
"Sometimes (the Bush administration) don't know what they want...
We say to them give us evidence," he said.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the United States
would hold Syria accountable for reported shipments of military
equipment, including night vision goggles, to Iraq, calling them
Shara said Syria's ties with Saddam's government were "not
friendly for many years" and that Damascus wanted to have good
relations "with the American people."
Syria, a staunch opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, has warned
repeatedly that the conflict would throw the region into chaos.
"We are victimized. I am telling you now, because (the Bush
administration) failed they are trying to pinpoint at a third
country, perhaps Syria or another country," said Shara.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday Washington did
not have a list of nations it plans to attack, as he tried to quell
speculation that the United States may move on from Iraq to
countries like Syria and Iran.
Villepin, who was in Damascus as the second stop on a four-nation
tour of Arab states, repeated French calls for the United Nations to
be given a major role in a postwar Iraq.
"One country can win a war but it takes many countries to install
peace," said Villepin, who met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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