Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on United States Diplomatic and Economic Actions Against Syria

 

November 14, 1986

 

The President today decided to take specific steps in response to Syria's continued support for international terrorism. The conviction of Nizer Hindawi in a British court directly implicated the Syrian Government in the attempted bombing of the El Al airplane. More than 230 Americans and almost 200 passengers of other nationalities were onboard the flight and would have died had the terrorist operation been successful.

 

Syria has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list's inception in 1979. As such, controls aimed at restricting the export of goods and technology that would make a significant contribution to the military potential or would enhance the terrorist support capabilities of Syria are in effect. Other measures, such as a cut off of foreign assistance to Syria, have also been imposed. We believe further steps must be taken to discourage such Syrian behavior and to express our outrage, and that of the American people, at Syrian sponsorship of this attack and its long pattern of support for terrorism. We have been in consultation with our allies on this matter, including members of the European Economic Community who announced their own measures on November 10. We welcome these decisions. These measures and our own actions will send a clear and unequivocal message to Syria: Its support of terrorism is unacceptable to the international community of nations.

 

As a result, the President is ordering the following actions:

 

 -- The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State, will expand current controls on exports of any items controlled for national security purposes, including related technical data, along with all aircraft, helicopters, and related parts and components.

 

 -- The Secretary of State will terminate the availability of Export-Import Bank programs for Syria.

 

 -- The Secretary of State will advise Syria of our decision to terminate the air transport agreement between the United States of America and Syria.

 

 -- The Secretary of Transportation will prohibit the sale of tickets in the United States for transportation by air on Syrian Arab Airlines.

 

In addition to these actions, we have informed U.S. oil companies that we consider their continued involvement in Syrian oil operations inappropriate under these circumstances. More vigorous procedures will be applied to Syrian visa applications. We also have revised an advisory statement on American travel in Syria to alert citizens to the potential for terrorist activity originating there. Finally, we are reducing the staff of our Embassy in Damascus and no high-level visits between the U.S. and Syria will take place.

 

These measures are intended to convince the Syrian Government that state support of terrorism will not be tolerated by the civilized world. We will continue to closely monitor the stituation and take additional steps as necessary. As long as Syria does not stop terrorism launched from its own territory, or areas of Lebanon under its effective control, the security of all states in the region is jeopardized. Syrian-supported terrorism has introduced an unpredictable element of instability in the region and risks the danger of open violence there. Syria can play an important role in a key region of the world, but it cannot expect to be accepted as a responsible power or treated as one as long as it continues to use terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy.