Iraq to talk with Syria on implementing AL deal

Updated: 2011-12-09 10:02


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BAGHDAD - Iraq on Thursday agreed with the Arab League (AL) to try to convince Syria to implement the bloc's initiative in a bid to avoid economic sanctions and end the violence in the country.

"We have talked about Syria and we demanded interference from Iraq which has a good relation with Syria," visiting AL chief Nabil al-Arabi told a joint news conference here with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

"The Iraqi government has told us that it will hold talks with the Syrian government to find a solution for this issue," said al- Arabi, who arrived in Baghdad earlier in the day.

Al-Arabi focused on the points of the AL's initiative that Syria has to halt violence, free detainees and carry out political reforms. He said that the AL and Iraq have agreed to send an Iraqi delegation to Damascus to convince the Syrian government to solve its problems in the country.

"Now it is up to Syria. The ball is in the Syrian court, they can come and sign (the initiative) at any time and then perhaps the observers will be there perhaps in 24 hours ... if they want to stop the economic sanctions, they (have to) sign," al-Arabi said.

For his part, Zebari said that Iraq "will exert every effort with Syria to remove all the obstacles that face this initiative."

"We think that the initiative is a real opportunity for Syria in order not to open the door for any foreign interventions," Zebari said.

The AL said that Syria has failed to implement the peace plan, which Damascus agreed to on November 2. But Arab ministers have been extending deadlines and granting reprieves to Syria in an apparent bid to keep the peace plan alive.

On November 27, the AL approved sanctions against the Syrian government due to its crackdown on protests that have engulfed the country for months, with punitive measures including a freeze on transactions with Damascus and its central bank, as well as freeze to the Syrian government assets in Arab countries.

Iraq, enjoying close ties with Syria, abstained from the vote of the AL's sanctions for economic motives.

"Our stance is mainly economic, as there is a trade exchange between Iraq and Syria, in addition to joint border," Iraqi deputy foreign minister Labid Abbawi said.

According to Abbawi, the sanctions will have impacts on the Syrian people more than on the administration, and "will have consequences for us as well as Syria."