Syria-US relations deteriorate

14 October 2003
A senior official in the Syrian government on 11 October said that relations between Damascus and Washington have plummeted in recent months. 'Syrian-American relations have deteriorated markedly to a point that they have not reached in recent years,' said Syrian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Bushra Kanafani. She added that the US' threat to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's 5 October bombing in Syria and the passing of the Syria Accountability and Lebanon Sovereignty Act on 8 October have taken their toll. 'The area is already in great tension and we hope we can, all of us, avoid further escalation,' she said. Kanafani also emphasised that Syria had a right to use force in protecting its people from further attack. 'Syria shall use its legitimate right to respond with all means possible in case that aggression is repeated,' she said, referring to the possibility of a future Israeli attack on Syrian land (MEED 9:10:03).

Kanafani's comments mark a serious deterioration in relations between the Washington and Damascus. Although the two countries rarely got on publicly, there was a good deal of behind the scenes co-operation and dialogue between officials.

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