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Assad arabs unite

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Arabs Urged Face US Threats

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is urging Arab and Muslim countries to unite in the face of US threats and "foreign conspiracies" as Washington prepares for a possible attack on Iraq.

Iran's official IRNA newsagency said Assad reiterated Syria's opposition to any US military strike on Baghdad and called for "deeper unity and solidarity among Arab and Muslim countries in the face of American threats against the region."

Enemies of Baghdad

Assad was speaking after a meeting in Damascus with Mohammed Sader, a senior Iranian foreign ministry official.

Syria and Iran, both erstwhile enemies of Baghdad, oppose any strike on Iraq which they fear could spread to target them.

Syria, which has begun rebuilding economic ties with Baghdad in recent years, also fears losing what diplomats claim is a UN sanctions-busting oil trade.

Syria and Iraq say oil deals fall within the UN oil-for-food programme.

Sponsoring terrorism

US President George W. Bush accuses Syria, Iran and Iraq of sponsoring terrorism and has branded Baghdad and Tehran part of an axis of evil bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Bush has made clear Washington's determination to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but Baghdad has dismissed any suggestion of a tripartite alliance between Iraq, Iran and Syria to face US threats.

IRNA said Assad had called on the region to "challenge the conspiracies woven in foreign circles against the countries of the region."

Last Updated: 16:48 UK, Sunday September 01, 2002

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