Syria must not become a safe haven to Iraqi officials fleeing Baghdad, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has told the BBC.
Powell says banned weapons will be found
In a fresh warning to Syria, Mr Powell said it should not help Iraqi officials who should be brought to justice in their own country.
The American secretary of state also told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost programme there was "no question" there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and they would be found.
And he argued that ending the war did not depend on finding Saddam Hussein dead or alive.
We are making this point clearly and in a very direct
manner to the Syrians
US Secretary of State
"We will have closure with or without Saddam Hussein," said Mr Powell.
"We would like to know exactly what happened to Saddam Hussein, but he is no longer in charge of anything."
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already warned Syria not to allow equipment to go across its boundaries destined for parts of Saddam Hussein's regime.
On Sunday, Mr Powell said: "Syria has been a concern for a long period of time.
"We have designated Syria for years as a state that sponsors terrorism, and
we have discussed this with the Syrians on many occasions.
"We are concerned that materials have flowed through Syria to the Iraqi
regime over the years.
"We are making this point clearly and in a very direct
manner to the Syrians.
"We hope the Syrians will respond accordingly."
Mr Powell added: "Also, we think it would be very unwise ... if suddenly
Syria suddenly becomes a haven for all these people who should be brought to
justice who are trying to get out of Baghdad."
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa on Saturday denied his country was offering any help to the Iraqi regime.
Claims that it was giving support were only attempts to push attention away from American failures, Mr al-Sharaa argued.
French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin visited Syria this weekend as other nations tried to ensure a new diplomatic stand-off did not develop.
Some European foreign ministers have been visiting Damascus
UK Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien is set to visit Syria this week and says the Syrian ambassador has told him its border with Iraq is now closed.
The approach towards Syria and Iran is seen as a significant point of difference between the UK and US.
But Tony Blair recently said there were no plans for any attack on either country - and said they should be treated differently from Iraq.
In Sunday's interview, Mr Powell suggested Iraq could become an example of a country which had returned to the "family of nations".
He said the US had been worried about Iran and North Korea - part of the "Axis of Evil" US President George Bush has spoken of.
Such countries "were not friendly to democratic principles, who have supported terrorist
activities over the years, and who have been developing and even possess weapons
of mass destruction", said Mr Powell.
"One of the good things that will come out of what has happened in Iraq is
that Iraq can become an example ... of a nation that can now use its treasure to
develop an economic system and a political system that will make them welcomed
into the family of nations and become a responsible player in the region," he added.
US officials will be interviewing General Amir al-Saadi, the senior aide to Saddam Hussein who surrendered to American forces in Baghdad on Saturday.
The general has insisted Iraq has no biological, nuclear or chemical weapons.
No firm evidence of any weapons mass destruction has yet been produced, but Mr Powell was confident it would come.
He said: "The combat period is over and we can now turn our attention to finding weapons
of mass destruction.
"There's strong evidence and no question about the fact
there are weapons of mass destruction.
"We will find weapons of mass destruction."