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Syria, Iraq Discuss Restoring Relations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP -Iraqi and Syrian officials on Wednesday met to discuss restoring full diplomatic relations and reopening their embassies 23 years after breaking ties, a senior Iraqi Foreign Ministry official said.

No date has been set for opening the embassies and appointing ambassadors, deputy Foreign Ministry Labeed Abou said, but Prime Minister Ibrhaim al-Jaafari has said he would soon be visiting Syria and neighboring Iran.

The talks come at a time of heightened tension between the two neighbors following allegations that Syria has failed to stem the flow of foreign fighters across the porous border into Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi forces have tried to staunch the infiltration by carrying out counterinsurgency operations, including one that began Tuesday in western Anbar province.

Syrian officials have said they would ask the Iraqi government to provide evidence that insurgents have been moving across the border. Damascus has recently taken some steps to prevent infiltration, including increasing border guards and filling wadis — gullies gouged by rainstorms — with cement blocks and barbed wire to block passage.

A Syrian delegation was in Baghdad for the meetings. A similar Iraqi delegation was expected to visit Damascus following Syrian approval for the trip.

Syria broke relations with Baghdad in 1982 after accusing Saddam Hussein”s Iraq of inciting riots by the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Commercial ties improved in the last few years of Saddam”s regime before he was overthrown in 2003.

The two countries maintain interest sections in each other”s capitals. Syria is represented in Baghdad through the Algerian embassy.