Bush says Syria must expel Saddam backers
Trust of India
US President George W Bush has urged Syria to shut its borders to fleeing followers of Saddam Hussein and turn over any who have already found "safe haven" in Iraq's western neighbour.
"We expect them to do everything they can to prevent people who should be held to account from escaping in their country," he said after meeting for the first time at two area military hospitals with US soldiers wounded in Iraq.
"And if they are in their country, we expect the Syrian authorities to turn them over to the proper folks," said Bush, who yesterday met privately with some 75 hurt soldiers and their families accompanied by First Lady Laura Bush.
"We strongly urge them (Syrian leaders) not to allow for Baath party members, or Saddam's families, or generals on the run, to seek safe haven and find safe haven there," said Bush.
Syria "just needs to know we expect full cooperation," he said.
Syria has told the United States it has closed its border with Iraq to all but humanitarian traffic, US officials said Thursday, as they stepped up warnings to Damascus not to assist the remnants of Saddam's collapsed regime.
"We certainly hope that proves to be true," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The US ambassador to Syria, Theodore Khattouf, had been told of the closure in meetings with Syrian officials in Damascus, but stressed that Washington would be watching the border closely to see if the move was enforced, the State Department said.
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