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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 14:46 GMT
CIA seeks rogue state co-operation
Taleban soldier in Makaki refugee camp in Afghanistan
The war against the Taleban is making odd bedfellows
Roger Hardy

US President George Bush's war on terrorism is creating some strange bedfellows.

Reports from Washington indicate that the CIA has been in high-level contact with Syria, Libya and Sudan - all previously seen by the US as "rogue states" - to seek their co-operation in President Bush's newly-declared war on terrorism.

According to The New York Times newspaper, senior US intelligence officials have had recent meetings with their counterparts in all three countries.

Countries that Washington has long regarded as sponsors of terrorism are now being wooed for their support - provided they have no proven links with the Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden and his organisation Al-Qaeda.


The New York Times said that a senior CIA official went to Syria earlier this month for talks with his counterparts there.

The newspaper does not claim to know the substance of the discussions, but says the mere fact of the meeting represents a significant shift in relations between the two countries.

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
Libya wants to re-establish international relations
The paper also says US officials earlier had a meeting in London with the head of Libyan intelligence - and have opened lines of communication with Sudan.

In recent years most Middle Eastern states have tried to dissociate themselves from terrorism.

Libya, in particular, was punished for its involvement in the bombing of a Pan Am plane in 1988, and is now anxious to come in from the cold.

Links to extremists

Sudan too seems to want to shake off its past association with Islamic extremists, including Bin Laden.

More problematic for the US are Syria and Iran. President Bush recently included on his list of 22 most wanted men members of Hezbollah - the Lebanese Shia group which both countries support.

Moreover Damascus is still host to radical Palestinian groups, including the one which killed an Israeli cabinet minister earlier this month.

While most Middle Eastern states have expressed their horror at the events of the 11 September, this does not mean they share Washington's definition of terrorism.

See also:

03 Sep 01 | Business
Libya gives US oil ultimatum
17 Oct 01 | Middle East
War on terror: Syria's mixed reaction
28 Oct 01 | Middle East
Syrian president in Sudan
09 Oct 01 | Middle East
Syria gets UN security seat
01 Nov 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Eyewitness: Sudan in transition
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