March 31, 2003
Powell takes aim at Syria, Iran
In the first indication by the State Department that the war on terror may include a day of reckoning with Iran and Syria, Secretary of State Colin Powell demanded that the two rogue states halt their weapons programs and end support for terrorism.
"Iran must stop its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them," Powell said in a keynote address Sunday night at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's 44th annual policy conference.
"Syria also now faces a critical choice," Powell told more than 4,000 members of the pro-Israel community who gathered here for the three-day conference.
"Syria can continue direct support for terrorist groups and the dying regime of Saddam Hussein or it can or it can embark on a different and more hopeful course. Either way, Syria bears the responsibility of its choices and for the consequences."
Powell's remarks came days after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused Syria of shipping military supplies, including night-vision goggles, to Iraq as coalition troops fight Iraqi forces.
"These deliveries pose a direct threat to the lives of coalition forces," Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.
"We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian government accountable for such shipments," he said.
Powell received warm applause throughout his address, particularly when he defended the current planning and pace of the war in Iraq, which has come under fire from the press and some politicians in the US for having been overly optimistic in the pre-war stage.
"Let me just say this to you. We are only 10 or 11 days into this war. Baghdad is slowly being encircled. Pockets of resistance are being isolated. The oil fields are secure. Humanitarian aid is beginning to flow," said Powell.
"I have total confidence in the plan and total confidence in General [Tommy] Franks and the other leaders who are carrying out that plan," he said.
"Let there be no doubt about the outcome," he added. "We will drive Saddam Hussein and his regime out of power."Posted By Harry at March 31, 2003 03:24 AM | TrackBack