Friday, April 11, 2003
Arab League says US should not go after other M-East countries
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A top Arab leader has warned that targeting other Middle East countries after Iraq "would be adding fuel to fire.''
Instead, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Thursday, the United States should move quickly to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement once the war in Iraq ends.
U.S. criticism of Syria and Iran - both on the President George W. Bush's list of terrorist nations - has fueled speculation that after the success of the war against Iraq the United States might attack Damascus and Tehran.
Moussa said he discussed the "very, very serious proposition'' of this so-called "domino theory'' with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday.
"The situation in the occupied (Palestinian) territories is so serious that we cannot just ignore it and move to accuse this or that state and then apply, or call for the application of the domino theory which would be adding fuel to fire,'' he said.
If that happened, Moussa warned, the result could be "the end of the Middle East and all that is connected to the Middle East.''
While he did not name the United States, it was clear that his comments were directed at statements by top U.S. officials.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Syria and Iran of supporting Saddam Hussein, and Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States will do whatever it takes to defeat terrorism.
U.S. officials have repeatedly said there are no war plans against Syria and Iran and they were just putting these countries on notice.
Secretary of State Colin Powell told Pakistan Television that the Bush administration "does not have some plan or some list with nations that we're going to attack one after the other.''
The State Department released the transcript of his remarks on Thursday.
"If there should be a next step after what happened in Iraq,'' Moussa said, it "should be to concentrate on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and should deal with this occupation and move ahead as quickly as possible to put an end to it.''
He welcomed "any serious attempt'' to put into effect a U.S.-backed "road map'' to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
It is expected to be presented after the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Cabinet are sworn in, probably within weeks.
"We hope that it would be published soon, without preconditions or strings attached,'' Moussa said.
"But publishing the road map itself would not do much.''
The plan has to include a timeline and "guarantees'' that Israel keep the promises it is expected to make to the United States, he said. - AP
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