US considering economic, diplomatic sanctions on Syria: Powell
WASHINGTON (AFP - 14 April) - The United States may impose sanctions on Syria for its alleged support for members of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s former regime, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and backing of terrorism, US Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) said.
"We will examine possible measures of a diplomatic, economic or other nature as we move forward," Powell told reporters at the State Department.
"We are in touch with Syrian authorities ... and will make them aware of our concerns and we'll see how things unfold as we move forward," he said after a meeting with visiting Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Sabah.
Powell echoed Bush's remarks and said Syria should not allow any one of the 55 senior Iraqi official wanted by US forces to enter the country.
"These are the kinds of individuals who should not be allowed to find safe haven in Syria," he said, adding that if any of them had crossed the border, they should be detained.
"Once they get into Syria and start heading to Damascus, I would expect Syrian authorities would do everything they could not to provide these people safe haven," Powell said.
He spoke as US officials have stepped up dire warnings to Damascus in recent days, saying they would not tolerate Syria giving safe haven to members of Saddam's government or accept its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
On Sunday, US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) said Syria was developing chemical weapons and urged Damascus to cooperate with Washington as the war on Iraq (news - web sites) continues.
"We are concerned that Syria has been participating in the development of weapons of mass destruction, as the president noted, specifically chemical weapons," Powell said.
"We believe that in light of this new environment they should review their actions and their behavior, not only with respect to who gets haven in Syria and weapons of mass destruction but especially the support of terrorist activity," he said.
"We have a new situation in the region and we hope that all the nations in the region will now review their past practices and behavior," Powell said.