US Secretary of State Colin Powell says Syria has begun closing offices of anti-Israel groups, but Washington expects the Damascus government to take more action against militants.
Mr. Powell made the remarks today (Saturday) to reporters in Beirut, Lebanon, while on the final stop of a short Middle East trip.
Secretary Powell said the Syrians assured him earlier in the day during his meetings in Damascus that they had closed the offices of some anti-Israeli groups. Mr. Powell said he had provided the Syrians with some further suggestions that they plan to review.
While in Beirut, Mr. Powell also stressed Washington's concerns about activities by the militant Shiite group Hezbollah along Lebanon's southern border with Israel. He said the Lebanese army should deploy there to end Hezbollah's presence.
Mr. Powell met briefly with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.
The secretary used his trip to tell the leaders of Syria and Lebanon the United States is committed to a comprehensive regional peace that includes those two countries.
Mr. Powell also said Washington has no intention of military action against Syria. He added that a comprehensive peace includes a Lebanon free of all foreign forces -- a reference to the 20-thousand Syrian troops in Lebanon.
Lebanese police used batons and water cannon to break up an anti-Syrian demonstration in Christian East Beirut during the secretary's visit. Several people were arrested before the protest disbanded.
Next week, Secretary Powell plans to return to the region for talks with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers about implementing the so-called road map for Middle East peace.