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The BBC's Richard Lister
"Syria wants sanctions lifted"
 real 28k

Prof William Quant, University of Virginia
"I don't think we should assume that Colin Powell will be unwelcome in Damascus"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 February, 2001, 02:14 GMT
Powell aims to plug Iraqi oil flow
Oil pipeline
Iraq is exporting more oil than allowed by the UN
US Secretary of State Colin Powell is to urge Syria to end illegal oil imports from Iraq.

The United States says Syria is importing 100,000 barrels of Iraqi oil a day - against United Nations embargoes.


The region's problem remains Israel's policy

Al-Baath newspaper
Mr Powell, who flies to Syria as part of his Middle East tour on Monday, will ask President Bashar al-Assad to stop this.

He will then proceed to outline US and British ideas for tightening the sanctions against the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.

'Skewed agenda'

Like other Arab countries, Syria has expanded its trade ties with Baghdad and wants sanctions lifted.

Furthermore, in a foretaste of what Mr Powell should expect in Damascus, Syrian newspapers criticised the US for putting Iraq at the top of the agenda at the expense of the Middle East crisis.

The English language newspaper, Syria Times, wrote: "The Bush administration's first achievement in the region should be to focus all the attention on how to bring about a just, durable and comprehensive peace.

President Bashar Al-Assad
President Assad: Under pressure

"The second should be to help extricate Ariel Sharon from his well-known hatred of peace."

Al-Baath, newspaper of the ruling Baath party, had a similar message.

"The region's problem remains Israel's policy," the daily wrote.

More significantly, Ath-Thawra, a Syrian government daily, used stronger language, accusing the US and the European Union of allowing Israel to "turn the Arab scene into a Holocaust.

"The option of peace does not bind us to sit idle and pray for the mistakes of others."

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See also:

26 Feb 01 | Middle East
Annan pressed on Iraq sanctions
25 Feb 01 | Middle East
Western show of strength in Kuwait
25 Feb 01 | Middle East
Powell treads fine line in Mid-East
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