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April 08, 2003

Assad urges stronger UN role to end Iraq war

Look who wants a bigger say!
DAMASCUS: Syria's president urged the British prime minister on Monday to help strengthen the United Nations' role in halting the US-led war on Iraq, Syria's official news agency reported.

The agency said Tony Blair telephoned Syrian leader Bashar Assad to discuss bilateral relations, despite sharp differences between both countries over the US-British attacks on Iraq. Syria, the lone Arab member on the UN Security Council, strongly opposes the war on Iraq and has repeatedly called for a peaceful solution to the dispute over Baghdad's suspected weapons arsenal.

Assad told Blair that more needed to be done to strengthen the UN role in halting the war and bringing peace and stability to the volatile Middle East. Syria "is still against the war on Iraq because it is the Iraqi people who pay the price of this war," the agency quoted Assad as saying.

US officials have accused Syria of sending military equipment to Iraq. The Syrian government has denied the claims, saying it has aligned itself with the Iraqi people against an "illegitimate and unjustified aggression".

American officials have also accused Syria and Iran of supporting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction, the same charges that led America to launch a war against Iraq. Blair reportedly said "Britain completely disagrees with those who (call for) targeting Syria" and that London wanted to bolster relations with Damascus. Both leaders agreed to continue contacts and consultations between their countries, the agency said.