September 16, 2008 / 1:24 PM / 10 years ago

Syria names ambassador to Iraq

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria named an ambassador to Iraq on Tuesday, two years after the two countries restored diplomatic ties.

The state news agency said Nawaf Fares, a ruling party apparatchik, took the oath as ambassador to Baghdad in front of President Bashar al-Assad.

Iraq has not yet named an ambassador to Damascus. The two governments re-opened embassies in each other’s capitals in 2006, ending a quarter of a century break after Syria sided with Iran during its war with Iraq.

But relations between Syria and neighboring Iraq remain tense, with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government accusing Syria of allowing anti-U.S rebels to infiltrate the borders.

Iraqi officials have made it clear that there will be no progress on economic cooperation, including an oil pipeline, unless Syria shows what Baghdad describes as seriousness in stopping the alleged infiltration.

Several Arab governments named ambassadors to Iraq recently after the United States criticized them for acting slowly on normalizing relations with the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.

Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Caroline Drees

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