Middle East

Iraq delegation arrives in Syria for talks: Iraq PM's office

BAGHDAD: Iraqi National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh arrived in Damascus on Saturday for talks with Syrian officials on an Iraqi proposal to end months of unrest, an aide to Iraq's premier said.

"He is there to meet with the Syrian authorities to discuss the Iraqi peace initiative," Ali Mussawi, media advisor to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told AFP.

The initiative is aimed at opening a dialogue between the opposition and the Syrian government to reach a result that satisfies both sides, Maliki said in an interview with AFP on Thursday.

"America and Europe are afraid of the phase after [Syrian President] 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.





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