Today's Paper

U.S. charges are falsifications: Syria

DAMASCUS April 15. Syria on Tuesday denounced U.S. accusations that it was developing chemical weapons as "threats and falsifications" designed to further Israeli interests.

In a statement, the country's Cabinet said the "escalated language of threats and accusations by some American officials against Syria are aimed at damaging its steadfastness and influencing its national decisions and (Arab) national stances".

The statement came after Washington said Syria was a rogue nation and that the U.S. would examine diplomatic and economic measures against Damascus.

At the U.N. a spokesman for the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said, "the Secretary-General is concerned that recent statements directed at Syria should not contribute to a wider destabilisation in a region already affected heavily by the war in Iraq."

Earlier, in Madrid, Syria's ambassador to Spain said the U.S. accusations that Syria was harbouring terrorists were an insult.

"It's an insult to my country, an insult to a country that is a member of the U.N. Security Council and an insult to a peaceful country that is struggling and working for a lasting peace in the Middle East,'' the ambassador, Mohsen Bilal, told Spain's Cadena Ser radio.

Asked about a White House spokesman's description of Syria as a terrorist state harbouring terrorists, he said, "we reject this accusation categorically because it is baseless". Mr. Bilal also denied Syria had granted protection to senior Iraqi leaders who may have fled across the border.

On Monday, the U.S. Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had accused Damascus of testing chemical weapons within the last 12-15 months and of harbouring Saddam Hussein's top associates. The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, warned of possible diplomatic or economic sanctions. — Reuters

Recommended for you