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Syria and Iraq

Volume 455: debated on Friday 26 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the progress that the Syrian Government have made over the last 12 months in sealing the border with Iraq. (111557)

Syria has sought to improve security on the border with Iraq in recent months. The Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Mu’allem, visited Iraq on 19 November 2006 for talks, including on security, and the two countries reopened embassies in December 2006. A high level Iraqi delegation visited Syria from 15-18 December 2006, which resulted in Ministers signing a number of Memorandums of Understanding. The decision was also taken during these meetings to establish joint committees on detainees, borders and terrorism/intelligence co-operation. President Talabani of Iraq paid a state visit to Syria from 14 until 20 January, during which he is understood to have held extensive discussions, including on security. As I said in the House on 16 January 2007, Official Report, column 651,

“there have been some very welcome moves recently. The Syrians are setting up an embassy in Baghdad, and the Iraqis have a reciprocal arrangement in Damascus. It is very good news that the two countries are establishing stronger diplomatic links: that must be seen as a positive development”.

We continue to call on the Syrians to do more to control facilitation networks in Syria.