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Syrian Foreign Minister Meets Iraqi Leaders

Al-Muallim (left) with Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, in Baghdad on November 19 (epa) November 20, 2006 -- Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu'allim continues a visit to Iraq today with meetings in Baghdad with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani.

On November 19, al-Mu'allim called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces to help end sectarian violence.

"We believe that a timetable for the pulling out of foreign troops from Iraq will help reduce violence in Iraq and maintain security," he said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have accused Syria of failing to stop Arab fighters from crossing its border into neighboring Iraq.

After talks with his Syrian counterpart, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Iraq's security and stability is an issue for Syria and neighboring countries.

Al-Mu'allim is the highest-ranking Syrian official to visit Iraq since the 2003 ouster of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Zebari has said that al-Mu'allim's visit would show how neighboring Sunni Arab states are willing to help an Iraq now dominated by Shi'ite Muslims and backed by Washington.

(AP, Reuters)

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