Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's three-day trip to Syria is part of Baghdad's efforts to seek the help of its neighbors in stemming violence in Iraq.
Al-Maliki stressed that Iraq and Syria have "to weave a network of good relations."
Before starting a closed meeting, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Syria is "interested in stabilizing Iraq and improving its situation."
The United States has accused Syria of backing insurgents in Iraq. Ahead of al-Maliki's visit, the White House issued a statement saying it expects him to give Syria "a strong message" about its involvement in the conflict in Iraq.
Al-Maliki was also expected to address the plight of more than 1 million Iraqis who have fled to Syria to escape violence at home.
RFE/RL Iraq Report
SUBSCRIBE For weekly news and analysis on Iraq by e-mail, subscribe to "RFE/RL Iraq Report."