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Powell says U.S. argument is with Hussein not Iraqis Powell, Bush Sr. Honor Gulf Vets By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ---------------------------------------------------------------- (AP) Secretary of State Colin Powell and former President George Bush attend a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of Kuwait's liberation from Iraqi occupation. ---------------------------------------------------------------- Filed at 12:40 p.m. ET DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- In a potential policy shift, Secretary of State Colin Powell will recommend to President Bush an easing of curbs on export of civilian goods to Iraq to make sanctions more palatable in the Arab world, a senior U.S. official said Monday. Even some goods that conceivably could be useful to the Iraqi military -- such as water pumps and refrigerators that now are controlled -- may be exempted from the sanctions, which have been a bedrock of a tough U.S. policy toward Iraq for more than a decade, the official said. Powell, finishing a quick trip to the Middle East and Persian Gulf, was meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa to discuss Iraq sanctions and Mideast peace efforts. At a stop in Kuwait City earlier, Powell pledged that ``freedom will live and prosper in this part of the world'' in spite of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whose forces were driven from Kuwait 10 years ago. ``Aggression will not stand,'' Powell said as he joined former President Bush and Norman Schwarzkopf, the U.S. commander in the Gulf War against Iraq, in honoring the 148 Americans killed in combat in the 1991 conflict. Arab sentiment has been rising against the sanctions as falling heavily on Iraqi civilians. Powell found this concern echoed by Arab leaders in his first extensive trip to the region and will suggest the modifications to Bush after he returns home Tuesday night, said the senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Still, a decision may take some time, although the aim is to reach one before an Arab summit scheduled for late March in Jordan. The official said the United States would concentrate sanctions on military equipment, denying Saddam material to rebuild weapons. At the same time, he said, the United States would like to relax curbs on civilian goods. Overall, he said, the Bush administration found it had to make a better case for its Iraq policy to the world. While the United States can act on its own, the administration intends to consult with Russia, China, Britain, France, and, again with Arab governments, the official said. Iraqi officials also were holding talks Monday and Tuesday at the United Nations to make plea for ending economic sanctions. Powell flew to Syria from Saudi Arabia and earlier made stops in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait. The secretary of state, in his fast-paced trip, found general agreement in the Arab world that Saddam has to be controlled and Powell was pleased with the reaction, the official said. The Bush administration has information that suggests Syria was importing Iraqi oil outside the U.N. sanctions regime, but the U.S. official did not say how much. It is an issue Powell was expected to take up with President Assad. The Syria media, in advance of Powell's arrival, accused the Bush administration of a ``double standard,'' leaning heavily on Iraq while declining to get tough with Israel. Still, the U.S. official said, there were signs of change since Assad succeeded his father last July. The new Syrian president talks about reforming the economy, has done positive work with Syria's banking system, and is looking more to the world outside Syria, the official said. In Kuwait, Powell joined officials in laying a wreath at the U.S. Embassy in tribute to the Americans who helped reverse Iraq's annexation of its smaller, oil-rich neighbor. ``The use of force was moral,'' former President Bush said under bright skies to an audience that included hundreds of U.S. troops on duty to protect Kuwait from Iraqi threats. The former president said he did not know if his son, President Bush, will send more troops here. But, he said, ``the United States will never let Kuwait down.'' Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the U.S. mission as one of combatting evil. ``We want the world to know our quarrel is not with the people of Iraq. It is with the regime in Baghdad,'' he said. Powell's rhetorical campaign against Saddam was sweet music here. Kuwait, having felt the sting of Saddam, has kept its distance from Arab sentiments against U.N. sanctions against Baghdad. ``This was a guy who invaded a country that was not doing anything to him,'' Powell said Sunday as he condemned the Iraqi leader as a dictator who has been stripped of his ``stings'' by the Gulf War and world pressure in the years afterward. On Sunday, Powell had endorsed a Palestinian demand by urging Israel to lift an economic ``siege'' of the West Bank and Gaza as soon as possible. The constraints, which include a ban on Palestinian workers going to their jobs in Israel and the withholding of tax revenues, do nothing to improve the security situation, Powell said after a two-hour meeting with Yasser Arafat at his headquarters. Israel, in an effort to stem attacks on its soldiers and civilians, is using economic pressure as well as firepower. Peace talks have been shelved, and Powell said it will be a long time before they resume. Before seeing Arafat, Powell met Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem but evidently was unable to persuade Israel's incoming prime minister to ease that pressure. Still, Powell said the Bush administration's commitment to Israeli security was ``rock-hard.'' -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk