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Annan voices concern over American threats to Syria

In a veiled warning to US, UN Secretary General said anti-Syria talk might destabilise West Asia.

world Updated: Apr 15, 2003 17:17 IST

In a veiled warning to the United States, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that statements directed at Syria could destabilize the West Asia.

"The secretary general is concerned that recent statements directed at Syria should not contribute to a wider destabilisation in a region already heavily affected by the war in Iraq," Annan's spokesman said in a statement on Monday.

Earlier, top aides to US President George W Bush accused Syria of testing chemical weapons and harbouring terrorists and warned that it faced economic and diplomatic sanctions if it allowed fleeing Iraqis to cross its border.

"Syria is a terrorist state," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. But he added that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad " has a chance to be a leader who makes the right decisions."

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the Bush administration "will examine possible measures of a diplomatic, economic or other nature as we move forward."

In his statement, spokesman Fred Eckhard reiterated Annan's "strongly held view that any claim of threats to international peace and security should be addressed in conformity with the provisions of the (UN) Charter."

Annan "welcomes recent clarifications", the statement said, but it did not elaborate.

Annan's special adviser on Iraq, Rafeeuddin Ahmed, was in Washington yesterday for briefings with officials at the US State Department, Defence Department and National Security Council.

First Published: Apr 15, 2003 09:58 IST