Iraqi PM starts Syria tour
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Damascus on Monday on a 3-day official visit to Syria. Upon arrival at Damascus International Airport, al-Maliki was received by his Syrian peer Mohammed Naji Otri.
This is al-Maliki's first trip to the neighbouring country since he took office early last year.
Baghdad and Damascus restored diplomatic ties in November 2006 after a 26-year break over Syria's support for Iran in its eight-year war with Iraq. The talks with the Syrian leadership will examine resuming commercial agreements made prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the reopening of an oil pipeline between the two countries, and security affairs.
Al-Maliki was accompanied on the trip by a high-level Iraqi delegation, including ministers of interior, trade, oil and water resources. "This visit is to implement the government's policy that depends on the basis of security, economic and political relations with the neighboring countries and ways to enhance these relations," al-Maliki told reporters accompanying him on the trip.
"We will discuss the serious security file and its challenges, which concern not only Iraq but the whole region," al-Maliki said, according to the AP. "We will discuss the Iraqi community and immigrants in Syria and the ways to provide them with services."