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Arab, Egypt flay US charges against Syria

The Arab League and the Egyptian Govt both condemned US accusations against Syria concerning chemical weapons and support for terrorism.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2003 00:26 IST

The Arab League and the Egyptian government on Monday both condemned US accusations against Syria concerning chemical weapons and support for terrorism.

The league, headquartered in the Egyptian capital, expressed its "grave concern," while an advisor to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned the Americans against the temptation to "target one Arab country after another".

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa called the US accusations that Syria was harbouring members of the Iraqi regime who had fled across the border and was in possession of chemical weapons "very serious".

"The Arab League expresses its grave concern at these threats," Mussa said. "Threats of this nature against an Arab country and a member of the UN Security Council astound us."

Osama al-Baz, Mubarak's top political advisor, said: "The attempt by the United States to target one Arab country after another will do great harm to the Americans' image."

Such accusations against Syria "after things have started to calm down in Iraq", will "give Arabs the false impression that they are the target, one after the other, and that Iraq was only a first step," he added.

Baz underlined the "great difference between Syria and Iraq under Saddam Hussein" and added that Egypt knew perfectly well that Syria did not have any chemical weapons.

"Let them prove it," he said. "I am sure the Syrians would react favourably to any attempt to verify that their country was not harbouring such weapons."

Imad Moustapha, the number two at the Syrian embassy in Washington, flatly denied US accusations that Syria was assisting members of Saddam's regime, harbouring terrorists or producing weapons of mass destruction.

He said Syria was willing to accept international inspections to allay US fears that it has weapons of mass destruction and urged Washington to help rid the entire Middle East - including Israel - of such arms.

First Published: Apr 15, 2003 00:26 IST