Iraq rejects Arab calls for Assad to go-government spox

BAGHDAD Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:26am EDT

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq on Monday rejected Arab League calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying it was for the Syrian people alone to decide his fate, a government spokesman said.

"The Iraqi delegation put forward their reservation. It is not usual for the ministerial council to ask someone to leave. This is the sole responsibility of the Syrian people and others should not interfere," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

He was referring to a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Doha which early on Monday offered Assad a "safe exit" if he stepped down swiftly.

Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has taken a more moderate stance on the Syrian crisis than Sunni Gulf nations, calling for reform rather than an end to Assad's rule.

(Reporting by Patrick Markey; Writing by Aseel Kami, editing by Diana Abdallah)

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