Maliki denies conveying U.S. message to Syria

Visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denied on Tuesday that he was carrying any message to Syria from the U.S. administration on border security control.

Maliki denies conveying U.S. message to Syria
Visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denied on Tuesday that he was carrying any message to Syria from the U.S. administration on border security control.

"I only conveyed Iraq's message and none other," he told reporters after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his deputy Farouk al-Shara.

He underlined that the security issue is the key to any improvement in relations, saying ministers from both sides were ensuring that any agreements would be implemented.

The two sides were deliberating on setting up an effective mechanism to strengthen border control and prevent infiltrations across Iraq, Maliki said, adding that any cross-border violations should not be blamed on one side only, but on both.

The United States has been accusing Syria of doing little to stop anti-U.S. fighters and weapons from infiltrating into Iraq, an allegation denied by Damascus.

The U.S. president's national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said on Monday that the White House expects Maliki to give Syria a "strong message" against backing insurgents in Iraq.

He said Maliki will likely "be delivering a message to the Syrians which is: Please stop allowing foreign fighters to enter Iraq through your country."

Maliki, on his first trip to Syria since he took office in 2006, arrived in Damascus Monday morning for a three-day official visit.

It was also the second time for Maliki to visit a U.S. arch-foe within one month. In early August, Maliki visited Iran.

Besides Assad and Shara, Maliki also held separate talks with his Syrian counterpart Mohammad Naji Ottri and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.

Maliki said he found significant understanding and support to Iraq's political process and national reconciliation from Syrian leaders.

The leaders he met in Syria, Iran, Turkey and other neighboring states were all prepared to help achieve peace and stability in Iraq and protect the region against any potential unrest, he added.

On the economic side, Maliki called on Syrian companies to contribute to the reconstruction process in Iraq, saying Iraq needed Syrian support to put the country back on its feet.

On the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, Maliki said the refugee issue was a humanitarian problem that needed cooperation.

"We have shown every willingness to cooperate with our brothers in Syria to address the issue of displaced persons," he said.

Agencies
Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 01:15
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