US's Bolton warns Iran, Syria over Iraqi border

By Irwin Arieff
04 Aug 2005 17:52:19 GMT

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 4 (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, in his debut in the U.N. Security Council, pressed Syria and Iran on Thursday to do more to stem the flow of terrorists, arms and funding into neighboring Iraq.

His comments came as the 15-nation council unanimously adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution condemning a recent surge in violence in Iraq that has killed hundreds, including Algerian diplomats, U.S. Marines and a Sunni Arab helping to draft a new Iraqi constitution.

Russia used the vote to criticize the media for glorifying terrorists after Moscow said it would bar ABC News from working in Russia when the U.S. television network aired an interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev.

Bolton urged all nations "to meet their obligations to stop the flow of terrorist financing and weapons, and particularly on Iran and Syria."

"We think this is very important, obviously, to help bring stability and security to the people of Iraq and to permit the constitutional process to go forward. It's the highest priority for the people and government of Iraq, and for the United States as well," he said, speaking after the council vote.

Syrian Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad attacked Bolton's statement and similar comments by British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, saying they showed "a determined campaign against Syria" by Washington and London.

While Damascus had deployed around 10,000 soldiers and erected more than 300 surveillance towers along its border with Iraq, Britain and the United States had spurned a Syrian plea for assistance including night vision gear, he said.

"This help has never come. We would like to ask them, what have they done on the other side of the border? They have done nothing while Syria has taken all measures," Mekdad said.

U.S. President George W. Bush installed Bolton as his chief representative to the United Nations on Monday, bypassing Senate confirmation after Democrats stalled the nomination for five months.

His vote to approve the resolution on Iraq was his first official act at the world body although he has spent the past few days making the rounds of key diplomats.

While terrorism had struck with deadly effect in Beirut, New York, Madrid, London, Beslan, Bali, Riyadh and elsewhere, "nowhere is it as virulent and persistent as it is in Iraq nowadays," Iraqi Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie told the council, welcoming its adoption of the resolution.

Iraq "is bearing the burden for the world and now the world must stand with it," he said.

Russian Deputy U.N. Ambassador Alexander Konuzin used Bolton's presence to remark that while the vote showed the council's resolve against terrorism in Iraq, "we are not under the delusion that, after adoption of this resolution, that terrorist attacks will be brought to an end in Iraq."

He also lashed out at the media who "yield to the commercial temptation to popularize bloody bandits who are defiling the memory of those who have died."

"We are talking about abuse by ABC which offended many Russians -- showing this interview with a terrorist," he said.

Russia this week banned ABC journalists from talking to officials and will not allow them to renew their media accreditation.