World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraq will ask Syria-bound Iranian planes passing through its airspace to land for random inspections after Washington said they could be ferrying arms to Damascus, the Iraqi foreign minister said in an interview.
U.S. officials had raised their concerns over the past few days on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York, Hoshiyar Zebari told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper.
"We have informed Mrs Clinton (U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) and U.S. officials that the government plans to bring planes down and conduct random inspections," Zebari said in the interview published on Sunday. He confirmed he was referring to Iranian planes.
Washington had already said it was asking Iraq about Iranian flights suspected of carrying arms to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iraq has said it would never allow any arms to pass through its airspace to either side in the conflict.
The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Muslim, is close to regional Shi'ite power Iran.
Maliki has opposed demands by Sunni Muslim Arab Gulf nations that Assad step down to end the escalating crisis.
Zebari said the U.S. officials had said any flights carrying weapons to Syrian would break U.N. Security Council resolutions, and demanded Iraq stop them.
Washington had provided no specific intelligence of such flights, he added.
Iranian flights over Iraq had begun in March and stopped after Iraq asked that they be halted, the minister told the newspaper.
"They resumed again towards the end of July and they said these flights contain no weapons or hardware, and that they transport pilgrims, visitors and so on. But to verify their shipments, we will ask these planes to land," he said.
Zebari said Iraq opposed any foreign intervention in Syria and favoured a negotiated solution that would ensure a peaceful transition in Syria, starting with an immediate ceasefire.
He added Iraq had proposed holding another meeting of world powers on Syria as a follow up to the talks held in Geneva in June.
"What we have proposed to (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov is perhaps there is a need to convene a 'Geneva 2' to activate mechanisms for implementing what has been agreed upon and not to reopen the discussions," he said.
The Geneva meeting agreed a transitional government should be set up in Syria, but the major powers were at odds over what part Assad might play in the process.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
Moscow, which denies its troops have a role in the takeover of Crimea, says people there - a small majority of whom are ethnic Russians - should have the right to secede
With tourism down around 5 percent, pressure from business community expected to be a major reason.
If approved by EU foreign ministers at a meeting on Monday, they would be the first sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia since the end of the Cold War
Crimea, a southern Ukrainian region which is home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, will vote on Sunday on whether to join Russia.
South Africa said it would not tolerate attacks on its soil against exiled Rwandan opposition members
Finalised after months of political wrangling and likely to spark ultra-Orthodox rage, the legislation will be implemented fully in 2017
"I will serve until parliament chooses a new prime minister next week," caretaker Prime Minister Abdullahal-Thinni said.
"Today ... we will release another statement that will leave no doubts about the determination of G7 countries and the European Union," Barroso said
"The only source of power in any country is its people, and a president who lost his people's trust, who de facto lost his presidential authority and, moreover, who fled the country, cannot be legitimate," the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said.
Rival gangs killed 14 people, including eight women and three children
Human Rights Watch said if had to choose between Myanmar government report and UN one, would rather believe the UN.
The Bulgarian navy told Reuters the exercises started after a one-day delay due to unfavourable weather conditions.
The student died during a 200-strong protest march at Khartoum University against escalating violence in the western Darfur region
The four men had been granted bail by a Nairobi magistrate on February 12 but the prosecutors appealed the decision.
Mustafa Jemilev said he did not know exactly what Putin planned to discuss with him, adding that he would decide on whether or not he will meet Putin depending on what exactly Putin wanted to discuss.