Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem said the international conference on Syria due to be held in Geneva next June constitutes a favorable opportunity to reach a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
“Since the start of the crisis in Syria, we believed that dialogue among the Syrian people is the solution to this crisis,” al-Moallem told reporters in a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
“Nobody and no force in the world that can make decisions on behalf of the Syrian people as they alone have the right to do that,” he added.
Al-Moallem pointed out that he informed the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Zebari of “Syria’s decision on agreeing in principle to participate with an official delegation in the international conference,” noting that he “felt relief on their part about the Syrian decision.”
“The Syrian government believes in all good faith that the international conference constitutes a favorable opportunity for a political solution to the crisis in Syria,” the Foreign Minister said.
He clarified that his visit to Iraq came to express “the Syrian people and leadership’s solidarity with the Iraqi people and leadership in the face of the terrorist operations targeting the Iraqi civilians.”
“We came also to stress that the regional countries which are conspiring against Syria are the same countries that are supporting terrorism in Iraq,” al-Moallem added.
He noted that he discussed with both Iraqi ministers the means to develop the bilateral relations between Syria and Iraq and increase coordination during the current stage to prepare for the developments on the international arena.
Al-Moallem pointed out that he informed the Iraqi side of Syria’s decision to exempt the Iraqi tourism groups from entry visa charges as of early next month and its welcome of the Iraqi tourist groups.
He expressed Syria’s relief over the steps taken by the Iraqi army in combating the al-Qaeda terrorist organization “because this is a joint Syrian-Iraqi issue.”
“The terrorists in Syria have their extension in Iraq and vice versa, and we hope these operations will be successful as they guarantee the security of the Iraqi people and contribute to combating terrorism,” al-Moallem added.
He affirmed that “The only agreement between Iraq and Syria is that of serving the interest of the two peoples, and Iraq can’t be part of the axis of Syria’s enemies.”
For his part, the Iraqi Foreign Minister stressed that violence will not solve the problem in Syria, saying “It is essential to adopt political solutions that are to be agreed upon first and foremost by the Syrians themselves without dictations or imposition of a will or guardianship on the Syrian people in deciding the political system they want.”
Zebari made clear that “Iraq’s stances at the international and Arab forums have been very clear as from the very first day we called for the need to find a peaceful political solution to what the friendly and neighborly people of Syria are going through.”
He considered that “The crisis in Syria is no longer merely Syrian as all the neighboring countries have started to feel the impact of its serious repercussions on the security and safety of the region as a whole.”
He highlighted the importance of al-Moallem’s visit to Baghdad in terms of “its important timing for consultation and exchange of views between the two sides regarding fundamental issues that concern the security of Syria and the region.”
The Iraqi Foreign Minister described the talks with al-Moallem as “friendly and frank” which he said dealt with the developments and the Syrian-Iraqi relations in all aspects.
Zebari stressed that bilateral relations between Syria and Iraq are “standing and sustainable not only on the official level but also on the popular level as well.”
He pointed out that al-Moallem held talks with Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Maliki in which they discussed “many detailed issues and the international and diplomatic efforts to prepare for holding an international conference on the crisis in Syria.”
Zebari affirmed that Iraq will attend the upcoming conference on Syria, saying “Iraq was present at the first conference in Geneva a year ago…and we support the next international conference ‘Geneva 2’.”
He stressed that contact is underway between Syria and Iraq “in the interest of the two peoples and the security and safety of both countries,” reiterating that Syria and Iraq will continue consultation “to face any dangers that could face them.”
Zebari continued as saying that Syria and Iraq “are neighboring states and intertwined peoples, and whatever happens in any of them affects the other and none of them can distance or isolate itself from the other.”