US denies undermining Syrian govt
Updated: 2011-04-19 10:10
WASHINGTON - The United States denied Monday that it "is working to undermine" the Syrian government, though newly leaked diplomatic cables showed that US State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition.
"Trying to promote a transformation to a more democratic process in this society is not undermining necessarily the existing government," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters when repeatedly questioned on this issue at the daily briefing.
The so-called "democracy and governance programs" in Syria are "no different" than programs the US has in many other countries, according to him.
"What's different in this situation is that the Syrian government perceives this kind of assistance as a threat to its control over the Syrian people," Toner said.
Allegations on Washington's meddling in Syrian politics were put under spotlight as the Washington Post reported Monday that the State Department funded a satellite TV channel that "beams anti-government programming into Syria". The channel is closely affiliated with a group London-based Syrian exiles.
The Washington Post story was based on leaked diplomatic cables, which also showed the funding continued even as the Obama administration sought to improve relations with the Syrian government and has recently sent an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.
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