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Syria Says it Will Expel Some Iraqi Officials - 2003-04-21


Syria says it is not a safe haven for members of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime and Damascus promises to expel any Iraqi officials who may have fled there, a pledge praised by U.S. President George W. Bush. Amy Katz has details.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa says Damascus hopes to have a “serious and constructive dialogue” with the United States. At a news conference with the Spanish Foreign Minister Monday, Mr. Al-Sharaa welcomed President Bush’s praise for Syria’s promise not to give refuge to ousted Iraqi officials.

FAROUK AL-SHARAA, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
“We have sealed off the borders between Syria and Iraq and anyone crossing the border should have a visa.”

On Sunday, President Bush said Syria is starting to understand that it should not harbor former Iraqi officials.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“It seems like they’re beginning to get the message. And when we think there’s somebody there, or know somebody’s there, we, of course, will pass on the name and fully expect the Syrian government to hand the person over.”

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the weekend.

He and Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall, who also met with the Syrian President, said Mr. al-Assad vowed to expel any former Iraqi officials who may already be in Syria and to deny asylum to those who try to cross the border.

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