BAGHDAD, Iraq, (AP) – Talks between Iraq and Syria over Iraqi charges that Damascus is harbouring militants involved in deadly bombings in Baghdad have failed and will not be repeated, the Iraqi government spokesman said on Wednesday.
The talks in Ankara, Turkey, aimed at easing tensions between the two neighbours collapsed after Syria refused to accept a list of people Iraq wants extradited for their alleged involvement in a recent spate of bombings, including an Aug. 19 blast that killed more that 100 people.
Iraq accuses Syria of harbouring Saddam Hussein loyalists wanted in those bombings.
“We consider this security meeting as the final one. Such a meeting won’t happen in the future unless Syria positively responds to the unchallenged evidence and proof presented by Iraq. This is the final meeting,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press.
He added that planned talks on Thursday between the foreign ministers of Iraq and Syria in Istanbul, Turkey, may also be cancelled.
Syrian officials were not immediately available for comment.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has demanded that Syria hand over two suspects in the August truck bombings outside the foreign and finance ministries in Baghdad. He has asked the U.N. Security Council to set up an international tribunal to investigate the bombings.
Syria says the Iraqi government has failed to provide proof, rejecting extradition requests.
Al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi spokesman, said the Iraqi delegation presented “proof and evidence on the involvement of Syrian-based terrorists, and we have been demanding the handing over of the two terrorists.”
The government hopes Vice President Joe Biden, on a three-day trip to Iraq, will have suggestions on how to ease tension with Syria. Biden was to meet al-Maliki on Wednesday, the second day of his visit.
The United States has remained largely silent about al-Maliki’s accusations, but has said Syria still enables the smuggling of foreign fighters into Iraq and that former members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath party live in that country.
“Syria continues to allow the facilitation of foreign fighters through Syria that both come into Iraq as well as, I believe, into Afghanistan,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters after meeting with Biden late Tuesday.
“We do know that there are some ex-Baathist elements that are in Syria that are funding operations in Iraq, and we also know that they are operating Web sites that encourage attacks inside of Iraq,” Odierno said.