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Bush Warns Syria, Iran Not to Support Terrorists - 2003-07-21

President Bush says Syria and Iran are continuing to harbor terrorists, and such behavior will not be tolerated. The president opened the session with reporters with a statement that spoke of progress in efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

He said Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israel's Ariel Sharon are showing leadership and courage and should be supported by other nations in the region.

Mr. Bush also said Arab countries must stand for peace by fighting terrorism, and he warned that Syria and Iran are getting in the way.

"Today Syria and Iran continue to harbor and assist terrorists," said Mr. Bush. "This behavior is completely unacceptable and states that support terror will be held accountable."

He said their actions hurt the Palestinian people and threaten the goal of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel, "and all leaders who seek this goal have an obligation to back up their words with real actions against terror," he said.

The Middle East, the war on terror, and the future of Iraq were all on the agenda for the president's talks with the Italian prime minister. Mr. Berlusconi has strongly supported the Bush administration's policy on Iraq, and his visit to the Bush family home in Texas was seen, in part, as a reward for his friendship.

President Bush said they did not discuss the possibility that Italian troops might one day go to Iraq to replace some American soldiers. But he did say they talked at length about how best to help the Iraqi people during the reconstruction process.

The president said he hopes many countries will now step in to offer assistance, including European nations that did not support military action to oust Saddam Hussein.

"The more people involved in Iraq, the better off we will be," said Mr. Bush. "And that is exactly what our intention is, to encourage people to participate in making Iraq more secure and more free."

Mr. Bush said a free Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror, and he vowed that war will be won.