Middle East News
LEAD: Iraq pledges efforts to resolve Syrian crisis
Dec 8, 2011, 16:06 GMT
Baghdad - Iraq said Thursday it would initiate contacts with the Syrian government in an effort to persuade it to accept an Arab League plan to end months of violence in the country.
'Baghdad has started contacting the Syrian opposition to support efforts to implement the Arab League initiative,' Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said.
'We also have good links with the Syrian government,' he said at a joint news conference with the head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, in Baghdad.
Al-Arabi was on his first visit to Iraq since becoming the head of the 22-member pan-Arab organization in June.
He said that a package of economic sanctions, endorsed by the bloc last month, would be suspended if the Syrian government allowed Arab monitors into the country under a deal to halt a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Iraq abstained last month from voting for the sanctions imposed on neighbouring Syria with which it has wide trade links.
Al-Arabi said he backed a request from the Iraqi government to host an Arab summit..
'We are determined to have the next summit in Baghdad. I will make another visit to discuss its details,' he said following talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
In May, the organization announced the postponement until March of the conference, which was set to be held in Baghdad, due to turmoil in several Arab countries.
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