President Bashar Assad
AFP/Syrian TV

US says not working to undermine Syria gov't

State Department spokesman dismisses WikiLeaks' notion that Washington wants to topple Syrian regime; insists Assad 'needs to address 'legitimate aspirations of his people'

The United States is not working to undermine the Syrian government but President Bashar Assad "needs to address the legitimate aspirations of his people," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Monday.


"No we are not working to undermine that government," Toner said in response to a question at a media briefing, adding the US government was working to promote democratic processes in Syria and elsewhere in the world.


"The Syrian government perceives this kind of assistance as a threat," he said.


On Sunday, the Washington Post cited WikiLeaks documents which revealed that the United States was secretly funding anti-government groups in Syria.


The US initially began funding anti-Syria groups under the Bush administration, the report said, after he froze ties with Syria in 2005 in the wake of the assassination of Lebanon Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which many suspect was Syria's doing.


Ties with the US deteriorated increasingly with the escalation of clashes between Israel and Hezbollah along the Lebanese border in 2006. The US publically criticized Syria's political and logistical support of the militant organization.


The Obama administration has reached out to Assad, hoping to persuade him to change the administration's policies regarding Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and support for extremist groups. In January, the US stationed an ambassador in Damascus, the capital, for the first time in five years.


The Post said it was not clear from the WikiLeaks documents whether the U.S. was still financing Assad's opponents, though they showed funding had been set aside through September 2010.




פרסום ראשון: 04.18.11, 23:53
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