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Syria Willing 'In Principle' To Attend Geneva Talks

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem
By RFE/RL
Syria has agreed in principle to attend a proposed international conference in Geneva next month aimed at resolving the country's ongoing civil conflict.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem made the statement on May 26 during talks with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad.

Muallem said the conference will be a "good opportunity to resolve the Syrian crisis."

Muallem was in Baghdad on an unannounced visit and was expected to talk with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi officials were quoted as saying.

The preparations for a conference on Syria next month come amid fears the war in country could grow into a wider regional conflict.

Reports from Beirut say two rockets hit a Hizballah-controlled district of the Lebanese capital on May 26 and that at least four people were injured.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack in the Mar Mikhael District.

The attack came one day after Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that the Iranian-backed Shi'ite militant group was committed to fighting in the conflict in neighboring Syria in support of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Nasrallah said Syria and Lebanon were facing a threat from radical Sunni Islamists. He alleged this was part of a plot by the United States and its allies to strengthen Hizballah rival Israel.

Hizballah fighters are supporting Syrian troops pushing their attack on rebels in the mainly Sunni Muslim border town of Qusair.

Pro-regime forces were reported on May 25 to have unleashed artillery barrages in a bid to extend their control over the town.

Meanwhile, Baghdad on May 25 launched a security operation in western Iraq aimed at securing the region from use by militants battling the Assad government.

Iraq has not publicly supported Assad, but Western governments accuse Baghdad of ignoring Iranian flights over Iraqi territory to supply military equipment to Damascus.

With reporting by AFP, ITAR-TASS, and Reuters

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