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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Bush says no new war planned
President George W Bush
Mr Bush said there were signs that Syria was heeding US warnings
US President George W Bush has said he has no plans for any new military action following the conflict in Iraq.

He also played down fears about Shia fundamentalism in Iraq, saying he was pleased Iraqis now had freedom to express their religion.

Mr Bush was speaking to a group of business reporters invited to the White House to talk about his economic plans.

There has been speculation that the US might turn its sights on Syria, Iran or North Korea following the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

I can't think of a specific moment or a specific incident that would require military action
George W Bush

However, in excerpts of the interview released by Newsweek magazine, Mr Bush said he was not planning for any new conflict.

"I have no specific operation in mind at this point in time," he said.

"I can't think of a specific moment or a specific incident that would require military action as we speak."

Washington has accused Syria of aiding terrorism, developing weapons of mass destruction and harbouring associates of Saddam Hussein fleeing across the border.

However, Mr Bush softened his tone on Sunday, saying there were "positive signs" that Syria was heeding US calls to deny sanctuary to fugitives from Iraq.

Soliciting help

Mr Bush played down concerns about calls from Shia figures for an Islamic state in Iraq.

"I love the stories about people saying, 'Isn't it wonderful to be able to express our religion, the Shia religion, on a pilgrimage this weekend.' It made my day to read that," Mr Bush said.

The president said of the financial cost of the war: "I told the American people it didn't matter how much it cost to win the war, we're going to spend it."

"Fortunately the main military thrust was relatively quick in Iraq."

Mr Bush said the US was now actively soliciting help from other countries to help in the rebuilding of Iraq.




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