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Iraqi-Syrian Officials to Meet in Ankara to Resolve Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Iraqi Government has disclosed through its official Spokesman Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh that an Iraqi security delegation will leave for Turkey tomorrow to meet a Syrian security delegation in the presence of the Turkish side to deal with and contain the diplomatic Iraqi-Syrian crisis. He denied at the same time that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki would pay a visit to Turkey soon but said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would visit Baghdad in October.

Baghdad withdrew its ambassador from Damascus after accusing Syria of sheltering elements which planned the recent bloody bombings in the Iraqi capital killing and wounding hundreds. The Iraqi Government later demanded the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate the bombings which targeted the Foreign and Finance Ministries.

Al-Dabbagh said in statements to Asharq Al-Awsat that “an Iraqi security delegation will leave for Ankara on Tuesday (tomorrow) to meet Turkish and Syrian security committees. The Iraqi side will present the evidence and proof it had reached concerning the Wednesday bombings.” He added that this meeting follows a bilateral agreement between Al-Maliki and Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari’s meetings in Cairo. Turkey will play the mediator’s role.

A quadripartite meeting was held in Cairo last week between Zebari, his Turkish counterpart Davutoglu, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, and Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa to resolve the crisis and persuade Iraq to withdraw its demand for an international tribunal.

Al-Dabbagh stressed that “Iraq does not object to containing the situation and restoring relations with Syria through dialogue and diplomatic channels” and asserted that “the Iraqi side’s demands from Syria to hand over the wanted persons present in its territories remain because of their association with the terrorist operations. If we see that Syria is cooperating with us in this then the Iraq side will cancel the international tribunal’s issue. We are hoping that the Syrian side will cooperate with us in this. Iraqis turning toward an understanding with the Syrian side to contain the situation and not go through the international tribunal solution.”

Regarding the evidence which Iraq would present during these sessions, Al-Dabbagh said “there are clear and frank confessions. This confession is indisputable. There is in addition to this evidence a number of relations, financing, planning, coordination, and documents of similar terrorist operations which provide clear evidence that there is coordination at advanced levels between the groups present in Syria and the armed organizations present in Iraq and this backs the confessions.”

On the demands of the Arab League and Syria from Iraq at the quadripartite meetings, the Iraqi spokesman said “the talk at these meetings revolved around presenting the documents and evidence the Iraqi side has even though the Iraqi foreign minister said several times that Syria was not the target and his aim was to protect his citizens only.” He denied that Al-Maliki intends to visit Turkey and stressed that Erdogan would pay a short visit to Baghdad next month. He announced that a high-level ministerial delegation would leave Baghdad for Ankara on Thursday to prepare for the meetings of the Higher Iraqi-Turkish Committee under the two countries’ foreign ministers and which would be held on 17 and 18 in Istanbul and review what has been achieved. He added that eight ministers from Iraq and their Turkish counterparts would attend these meetings for the purpose of activating the strategic cooperation agreement.

A high-level Iraqi official had reported Al-Maliki’s anticipated visit to Cairo and Ankara in October. Al-Dabbagh said the ministerial delegation would raise many issues in Turkey, most importantly the water problem and how to reach an official solution that is satisfactory to all parties and there are also the transport, energy, technology, diplomatic, and other dossiers and the committee would also discuss activating the strategic cooperation council.