The United States has launched another high-level
effort to persuade Syria to stop its support to the insurgency in Iraq.
The Bush administration has sent Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage to Syria as part of a Middle East tour to prepare for Iraqi
elections on Jan. 30. Officials said Armitage would demand that Syria
implement its commitment to cooperate with the United States on border
security with Iraq.
"We have felt it's very, very important for Syria to continue to take
further action on issues of infiltration or insurgents, or support for
insurgents in Iraq," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on
Thursday. "That's where we think some of that activity is emanating and
supported from Syria. That will be a primary focus."
Officials said the administration has determined that Syria has failed
to honor its obligations to stop the Iraqi insurgency. They said despite
numerous appeals, Syria has refused to arrest or deport senior aides of
President Saddam Hussein who have been financing and directing the Sunni
insurgency from their headquarters in Damascus.
"We have been quite straightforward and frank in our discussions with
the Syrians over time, and I'm sure deputy secretary will continue those
conversations in that vain," Boucher said.
Officials said Syrian cooperation with U.S. security efforts in Iraq was
vital to ensure elections on Jan. 30. They said Sunni insurgents have been
ordered to disrupt the national elections at any cost, particularly in the
"Support for the insurgency is an urgent issue for the United States,
for the Iraqis," Boucher said, "especially for the Iraqi government and the
Iraqi people, who have raised these issues again and again with a great
degree of insistence with the Syrian government and we continue to do that,
Officials said Armitage would also discuss Iraq with its other
neighbors, including Jordan and Turkey. Both have provided logistical
support to the U.S.-led military coalition that has operated in Iraq since