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Rice, Syrian Foreign Minister Meet At Iraq Conference

Syria's al-Muallim (right) with Iran's Mottaki in Damascus last year (epa) May 3, 2007 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has begun a session of talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim, in one of the highest-level meetings between the two countries in years.

Rice and al-Muallim met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where they are attending a conference on Iraq.

Washington had shunned Syria, accusing it of fuelling tensions in Lebanon and in Iraq.

Earlier today, The chief spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Iraq, U.S. Major General William Caldwell , said that Syria had taken action to reduce the flow of foreign fighters entering Iraq.

Iran Question

There has been speculation that Rice would also meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki on the sidelines of the Iraq conference.

U.S. officials say Rice and Mottaki had a brief exchange over lunch today, but that it did not go beyond basic civilities.

Earlier, Rice called for "continuous and active" international support for a five-year plan aimed at stabilizing Iraq.

Opening the conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on all countries to forgive his country's foreign debts.

Other topics to be discussed at the conference include ways to end the sectarian violence in Iraq.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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Iraq In Transition

Iraq In Transition

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