Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat- An Iraqi delegation led by Saad al Hayani, the Foreign Minister Undersecretary for resource management and technical affairs, has recently visited Damascus for talks with Syrian officials on bilateral relations, Asharq Al Awsat hass learnt.
A source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the presence of security officials amongst the delegation, revealing two visiting Iraqi officials held talks on Tuesday with Deputy Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem. They are al Hayani and Salah Abdel Salam, director of the consulate section.
The source told Asharq Al Awsat, “The delegation was expected to include security officials. The fact that it included only two diplomats reveals its mission was to discuss diplomatic relations between the two neighbors and the necessary steps to be taken to establish embassies in Damascus and Baghdad .” Diplomatic relations between the two countries are currently restricted to a small presence in the Algerian embassy in each capital.
A Syrian diplomatic and security delegation had visited Baghdad on 28th June, 2005 carrying a message from Syrian Foreign minister Faruk al Sharaa to his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari. During meetings with Iraqi officials it discussed the obstacles that remain in the way of establishing full diplomatic relations between the two countries. At the time, a Syrian source close the negotiations said the delegation did not receive concrete proof of insurgents flocking to Iraq through the common border. It said officials in Baghdad spoke in general terms and stressed the importance of border controls and detaining members of the former regime.
Damascus , to underline its desire to control its borders, had requested the United States supply it with specialized technical vision equipment. The demand was referred to Britain who has yet to supply the gear.