September 19, 2009 / 11:48 AM / 10 years ago

Iraq says no progress with Syria over insurgents

BAGHDAD, Sept 19 (Reuters) - A meeting of Iraqi and Syrian officials over accusations Damascus shelters Iraqi insurgents yielded nothing and further talks were unlikely to do much better, Iraq’s government said on Saturday.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said there was a lack of political will on the part of Syria.

The foreign ministers of Iraq and Syria held talks in Istanbul on Thursday, mediated by Turkey, to improve ties in the wake of a row that saw them recall their ambassadors last month.

Baghdad has accused Damascus of supporting or at least turning a blind eye to Sunni militants linked to former ruler Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath party, whom it blames for a string of bombings, including two huge truck bombs outside Iraqi government ministries on Aug. 19 that killed 95 people.

"The meeting did not achieve results. There is expected to be another meeting in New York but we believe the Syrian side is not showing political will, so these meetings will not offer what Iraq is looking for," Dabbagh said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has asked the U.N. Security Council to launch an inquiry into the bombs. Baghdad says that request may be withdrawn if Syria decides to cooperate.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called Iraq’s accusations "immoral" and demanded Baghdad provide proof to back them up.

Maliki wants Syria to hand over wanted men it blames for masterminding the August bombs and other attacks. The Iraqi government says it has presented Syria with detailed evidence, although it has never made that evidence public.

The countries had only recently begun to improve relations strained since the early days of Saddam. (Reporting by Muhanad Mohammed; Writing by Tim Cocks, editing by Mike Peacock)

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