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US denies rift with Blair on Syria, Iran
Cat : New Cons
Date : 2006-11-15 09:45:34                      Reader : 284
war rather than dialogue with Iran and Syria. We call Iran and Syria to take high precautions against expected Israeli attack supported by U.S. Republican Party upset minded President in U.S. said yesterday that Israel follow a God policy in the Middle East !!

Associated France Press (AFP) 15/11/2006

US denies rift with Blair on Syria, Iran


by Stephen Collinson

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House rushed to deny claims of a diplomatic rift with its closest European ally Britain, after Prime Minister Tony Blair mooted a "partnership" with US foes Iran and Syria.

As the impact of a major foreign policy address by the British leader started to sink in, the White House bristled at suggestions Blair had struck out from Washington, issuing a fact sheet to debunk the claim.

Blair on Monday laid out a "whole Middle East strategy" involving a push for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, a plan for Iraq and a "strategic" choice of cooperation or isolation to be offered to Iran.

On Tuesday, the British premier testified by video link-up to the US Iraq Study Group, probing possible new strategies on the war and called for a "strategic choice" for Iran and Syria, Downing Street said.

His remarks were seen by some observers in both countries as an attempt to influence US policy in the Middle East, at a time when changes in Iraq strategy are being contemplated following the Republican defeat in mid-term elections.

President George W. Bush's spokesman Tony Snow however told AFP on Tuesday that suggestions in the US and British media that Blair's remarks signalled cracks between Downing Street and the White House were mischaracterizations.

"Read his speech, and you'll see there is no difference between the governments," Snow said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack acknowledged Britain and the United States had historically slightly differed towards Iran -- but did not see "a particularly new policy statement" in Blair's speech.

The White House drew particular reference to Blair's comment that "there is a fundamental misunderstanding that this is about changing policy on Syria and Iran."

The White House fact sheet unflatteringly compared coverage of Blair's speech by US-based reporters on The New York Times and The Washington Post and their colleagues in London.

London-based reporters for the two US newspapers wrote that Blair took pains to ensure his remarks were not seen as a dramatic new policy shift.

But the fact sheet noted colleagues on the same papers in the United States had wrongly seen Blair's speech as a policy shift on Iran and Syria, stating: "Prime Minister Blair's Policy Is Not New And Is Similar To President Bush's Policy."

In his speech Monday, Blair said the West should "offer Iran a clear strategic choice: they help the Middle East peace process not hinder it; they stop supporting terrorism in Lebanon or Iraq; they abide by, not flout, their international obligations.

"In that case, a new partnership is possible. Or alternatively they face the consequences of not doing so: isolation," he said, adding that Tehran must also stop its nuclear enrichment drive.

On Monday, Bush said in a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that talks with Iran were only possible if Tehran halted its nuclear program in line with an already stated international initiative.

A Downing Street spokeswoman told AFP on Tuesday that Blair also had told the US Iraq Study Group in the videoconference that any solution in Iraq must be part of a broader Middle East strategy which would also include a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The way to deal with Iran was not to back down on our demands but to take away their ability to exploit Muslim opinion and to confront both it and Syria with a strategic choice," the spokeswoman said.

This choice was that they could either be "part of a solution or face isolation," she added.

Blair's speech on Monday puzzled some observers, evidenced by several different interpretations on offer in different newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nile Gardiner, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation think-tank, which has close links to the Bush administration, said the speech was a "major shift in British policy" and an attempt to influence the US Iraq Study Group.

"Over here, I think the speech hasn't really sunk in, but it will do in the next few days," he said.

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