Powell warns Iran of isolation
* Asks Syria to mend ways or face ‘consequences’
WASHINGTON: US policy is to isolate Iran while at the same time staying in touch with Tehran on events in southern Iraq and on Al-Qaeda’s terror network, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.
“We believe there are ways to communicate with the people of Iran to convince them that the policies their leaders have been following have been inappropriate,” Powell told NBC television. “Meanwhile, we will continue to isolate Iran as best we can.”
He said a military invasion of Iran was not the order of the day.
“We have ways of communicating with Iran on what we think they ought to be doing with respect to going forward to a better relationship with us and the rest of the world.” “And also we have been in touch with Iran with respect to activities that they may be contemplating in the southern part of Iraq among the Shia community,” Powell said. He said that Iran had before it several opportunities to improve relations with the United States.
On Syria: A failure by Damascus to pull its weight over the situation in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will result in “consequences”, Powell warned. “There are consequences lurking in the background,” Powell said.
Powell reiterated his call to Damascus to react constructively to the new situation in the region following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in neighbouring Iraq. Assurances from Syrian officials would not do, Powell added. “What counts now is performance. We’re looking for a new attitude on the part of Syria. We’re looking for changed behaviour,” he said.
Washington already had legislation in place, which would allow it to impose sanctions on Syria if US officials felt Damascus was being uncooperative, Powell noted.
Roadmap for peace: Powell on Sunday called on Palestinians to end violence against Israelis, to clear the way for the latest US-led peace initiative. “Right now the most important thing for the Palestinians to do is what Prime Minister Abu Mazen has said at the time of his inauguration. They have to get the violence under control,” he said. “We can’t move forward with the roadmap in the presence of continuing violence and terrorism.”
Powell also said that Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territories “has to come to an end.”
North Korea: The North Koreans are “masters of ambiguity” in their statements about their nuclear program Powell said. “They are always ambiguous in their statements, masters of ambiguity,” Powell said. —Agencies