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Region | Iraq

Al Maliki in Damascus to discuss security issues

Iraq's Nouri Al Maliki comes to Syria on his first visit to the country as prime minister amid efforts to garner neighbours' support for curbing violence at home.

  • Agencies
  • Published: 13:25 August 20, 2007
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari embraces his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki at Damascus airport on Monday.

Damascus, Syria: Iraq's embattled Nouri Al Maliki came to Syria on Monday on his first visit here as prime minister amid efforts to garner neighbours' support for curbing violence at home.

The three-day sojourn by the Iraqi Shiite leader is expected to focus on the sensitive border issues plaguing the two nations.

"We will discuss the serious security file and its challenges, which concern not only Iraq but the whole region," Al Maliki told reporters. "We will discuss the Iraqi community and immigrants in Syria and the ways to provide them with services."

Syria hosts nearly two million Iraqi refugees who have sheltered mostly in Damascus and its suburbs. Damascus has lately complained of the increasing number of Iraqis pouring into the country and has called on the US to share the burden of providing for the refugees.

The United States and Iraq have repeatedly accused Syria of failing to reign in the flow of militants, foreign fighters and arms across the boundary into Iraq.

Syria denies the charges that it is fueling the anti-American insurgency, saying it is impossible to control the long desert border.

Last week, Al Maliki went to Turkey and Iran, and said he would continue traveling to other countries to seek help in stemming the violence that has ravaged Iraq.

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