Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, on his first official visit to Syria, held talks on Tuesday with President Bashar al-Assad. Maliki, on the second day of his trip, was also due to meet Vice President Faruq al-Shara and some of the estimated 1.5 million to two million Iraqi refugees who have fled fighting in his country.
"Syria spared no efforts to offer aid to the Iraqis, and did her best to support and realize Iraqi national reconciliation, security and stability…. Syria endured pressures, social and economic burdens as a result of the existence of nearly 1.5 million of Iraqi refugees in Syria," Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Ottri said during the official session of talks with al-Maliki.
The Syrian official held the occupation forces in Iraq responsible for the social, economic and security deteriorating situation there, saying "the presence of occupation forces in Iraq attracted extremism powers and led to escalating blind violence which claims the lives of scores of innocent people every day in Iraq."
Syria and Iraq only restored diplomatic ties last November, 26 years after they were broken.