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U.S. Denies It Won’t Press Syria on Group’s Role in Pan Am Bombing

November 6, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Bush administration has denied charges that it is reluctant to press Syria to cut off ties with the terrorist group believed responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 last December.

But State Department deputy spokesman Richard Boucher refused again Friday to confirm that the United States believes the group responsible for the act is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jabril.

All Boucher would say was that Washington “has discussed the Pan Am 103 bombing with Syria, as we have with other countries which may have information about terrorist groups.”

Boucher was responding to charges in a column by A.M. Rosenthal, published Friday in The New York Times, that the United States has provided evidence to Syria that the PFLP-General Command is responsible for the bombing, but that Syria has refused to close the bases of the terrorist group or expel it from Syrian-controlled portions of Lebanon.

The United States has not informed the American public of this because it “considers its relations with Syria more important than keeping the American public fully informed,” Rosenthal suggested.

“The United States has repeatedly expressed concern, both publicly and privately, about terrorist groups supported by Syria, including the PFLP-General Command,” Boucher said.

“On numerous occasions, we have asked Syria to take actions against these groups, both inside Syria and in Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon,” Boucher said. He explained that the actions could start “with expulsion and restrictions on their activities.”

Boucher added that the United States “is not satisfied with the Syrian response to date, and we will continue to press our concerns.”

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