Iraqi PM to Visit Syria to Discuss Security Issues

A009056820.jpgIraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is due to discuss security, political and economic issues with Syrian officials during a three-day visit to Damascus starting from Monday, a Syrian official said. Speaking to FNA in Damascus on Saturday, the Syrian official, who asked to remain anonymous, also said that a delegation from the Iraqi prime minister’s office have arrived in Damascus today to coordinate the trip.

“During this visit, the two sides will discuss implementation, revision or replacement of the agreements already held by the two countries,” he added.

The source said that the issue of over 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria is on the agenda of upcoming talks between Iraqi and Syrian officials.

“In this trip, al-Maliki will also discuss and exchange views with Syrian officials about security, political and economic issues, while the two sides are expected to issue a statement at the end of the Iraqi premier’s visit to Damascus to determine the future prospects of Syria-Iraq relations,” he mentioned.

Describing the goals pursued by al-Maliki’s visit to Syria as “promising”, the source said that the Iraqi prime minister is scheduled to attend meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Vice-President Farouk al-Shara, Prime Minister Najah al-Attari and religious authorities as well as representatives of the Iraqi minorities residing in Damascus.

Iraqi oil, commerce and water resources ministers as well as acting deputy foreign minister and a number of advisors from other ministries will accompany Nuri al-Maliki in this visit.

The upcoming trip to Syria by Nuri al-Maliki, who lived in Damascus a long time during the rule of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, will be his first official visit to the western neighbor since he assumed the post of Iraq’s prime minister in 2006.

Iraq and Syria resumed diplomatic relations last year after several decades of severed ties.

The Iraqi prime minister also paid visits to Turkey and Iran last month.

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