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Saudi Absence Casts Doubt Over Iraq Security Talks In Syria


Today's meeting in Damascus (AFP) August 8, 2007 -- Iraqi envoys urged their country's neighbors today for genuine support as a regional meeting on deteriorating security in Iraq got under way in Damascus.


The two-day meeting reportedly focuses on ways to better control the Syria-Iraq border.


The gathering includes representatives from Iraq, the United States, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and Britain. But the absence from the gathering of Saudi Arabia, which has poor relations with Syria, casts doubt over how effective the meeting will be.


U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the U.S. representatives would mainly be "observers." But he noted that the United States has concerns about Syria's role in the Iraqi crisis, which may be addressed at the meeting.


"The first and foremost issue that we raise with [Syria] is the fact that they do continue to allow their territory to be used by foreign fighters and by networks trying to transport them into Baghdad," Casey said. He said Washington is pressing the Syrian government to follow through on its promises to help improve security in Iraq and create "good neighborly relations between themselves and the Iraqi government."


The United States also accuses Iran of interfering in Iraq by supporting Shi'ite militia fighters.


(AP, Reuters)

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