New light shed on Iraq-Syria political stand-off 2009-09-17 20:37:02   Print

    by Subhy Haddad

    BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Signs of a possible development on the political stand-off between neighboring Iraq and Syria seem to emerge when Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari attends a four-party conference scheduled to convene in Istanbul on Thursday.

    Zebari and his Syrian counterpart Walid Mualem will meet in Istanbul Thursday for talks aimed at defusing bilateral tensions. The event will also include participation of their Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

    Iraqi government's spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh said early Thursday that Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have discussed through a phone call about the worsened Iraq-Syria relations, after Iraq charged Damascus of having been involved in last month's bloody attacks that claimed lives of nearly 100 in Baghdad.

    Iraq has demanded Syria to hand over two leading Iraq's former ruling Baath Party members, who were taking refuge in Syria, as Baghdad had charged them with having been behind the deadly Baghdad bombings on Aug. 19, when two truck bombs struck Iraqi foreign and finance ministries and claimed casualties of nearly 1,300.

    Earlier, Turkey sent its foreign minister to Baghdad and Damascus respectively in a mediation attempt to ease down the Iraqi-Syrian crisis and convince both sides to settle their crisis peacefully. The tension between the two countries escalated on Aug.25 when they withdrew their respective ambassadors.

    Maliki has ordered his security forces to fortify their presence on Iraq's borders with Syria as part of its attempts to put an end to the alleged penetration of terrorists across the Iraqi-Syrian borders to carry out attacks on Iraqi targets.

    Maliki has alleged that 90 percent of foreign terrorists had infiltrated into Iraq via Syria.

    Meanwhile, some of the main Shiite and Sunni parties sharing in Maliki's government had called for easing down the Iraqi charges against Syria despite Maliki's insistence to continue his government's campaign against Damascus.

    In an earlier meeting of Iraqi Presidential Council, led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents Adel Abedel-Mahdi and Tareq al-Hashemi, they called for solving the crisis through peaceful means.

    But official and semi-official Iraqi media continued their attacks on Syria, repeating Maliki government's demands to hand over Iraqi Baath Party leaders to the Iraqi authorities.

    Maliki had asked the UN Security Council to form a special international court to investigate the Iraqi charges against Syria and the Aug. 19 terrorist attacks.

Editor: Fang Yang
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