Iraq team has `positive` talks with Syria`s Assad

An Iraqi team held positive talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a bid to end the deadlock.

Updated: Dec 17, 2011, 22:07 PM IST

Baghdad: An Iraqi team held "positive" talks
with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday in a bid to end
the deadlock over an Arab League plan to stop nine months of
bloodshed, its leader said.

"I am on my way to Cairo for a meeting with the Arab
League after holding positive talks with President Assad,"
National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh said.

"We explained the Iraqi position," he added, which is
designed to bring a peaceful end to the ongoing clashes in a
way that respects "the will of the Syrian people, in the
framework of democratic change."

Fayadh said his government`s proposal was also designed
to restrict "foreign interference" and prevent sectarian
conflict.

Iraq`s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Thursday
that Baghdad wants to open a dialogue between the opposition
and the Damascus regime to reach a result that satisfies both
sides.

"America and Europe are afraid of the phase after Bashar
al-Assad. That is why they understand the initiative" from
Iraq, Maliki said.

The United Nations this week estimated that more than
5,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government`s
crackdown on dissent, now in its 10th month.

Shiite-led Iraq has so far shied away from punitive
measures against Assad`s Alawite Shiite regime, abstaining
from both a vote to suspend Syria from the Arab League and
another to impose sanctions on Damascus.

There are fears among officials in Iraq, which has a
substantial Sunni minority, that instability in neighbouring
Sunni-majority Syria could spill over the border.

PTI