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Iraq promises Egypt it will stop criticising Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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CAIRO,(Reuters) – The Iraqi government has promised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that it will stop its public criticism of Syria”s border control efforts, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in an interview published on Monday.

Talabani said Iraqi officials had been wrong to attack Syria. &#34I did not agree to that or to this open conversation. In fact I was in favour of a closed conversation with Damascus and I never uttered a single word against Syria,&#34 he said.

&#34The Egyptian President asked for an end to the campaigns against Syria and we promised him that, so I will not speak about accusations or documents (against Syria),&#34 he added.

Iraqi officials have openly accused Syria of not doing enough to stop militants crossing the border into Iraq to join the insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi government forces.

Iraq”s national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, said last week that nearly all the suicide bombers who had carried out attacks in Iraq were Arabs who crossed from Syria.

&#34We want a political decision by the Syrian security agencies to stop the penetration of suicide bombers from Syria to Iraq … it is very important that this decision is taken on the highest political level in Syria,&#34 he added.

The United States, among many grievances against Damascus, has accused the Syrians of not doing enough to stop infiltrators. Syria says it is doing what it can and accuses Iraq and the United States of failing to control their own side of the border.

Talabani said U.S. forces would be able to leave Iraq within two years. &#34Next year we will complete the training of the Iraqi armed and security forces … then in the second year there will no longer be a need for U.S. forces to stay.&#34

He said the insurgent group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq, was losing its strength because dozens of his lieutenants had been killed.

&#34We used to hear about 10 bombings in one day. We no longer hear about more than two or maybe fewer a day because of the weakness of their capabilities,&#34 he said.

Talabani was in Cairo for a reconciliation conference of Iraqi politicians ending on Monday. At a news conference on Sunday he said he was willing to talk to people who called themselves &#34resistance&#34, if they contacted him.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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