Iraq re-established diplomatic relations with Syria on Monday, agreeing to restore an embassy in Baghdad after more than 20 years with no formal avenues of communication.
The step came on the second day of a two-day visit by Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, who met with the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in the international Green Zone here.
As the United States undertakes a broad review of its role in Iraq, the neighboring countries of Iran, Turkey and Syria have stepped forward to try to position themselves in case of a major change in policy, leading to a recent flurry of diplomatic efforts. The countries are also concerned about the possibility of a political collapse as the Iraqi government sinks into paralysis with its two main sects stuck in a deadlock.
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Syria and Iraq Restore Ties Severed in the Hussein Era" in this morning's New York Times. Nancy Trejos covers the same topic for the Washington Post today:
On Monday, reports surfaced of a possible weekend summit in Tehran involving the Iraqi and Syrian presidents, but U.S. and Iraqi officials quickly denied that any high-level three-way meeting would take place.
In Baghdad, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had no intention of attending a meeting with both Iran and Syria. Maliki's close aide Hasan Suneid said Talabani had accepted an invitation from the Iranian government to visit Tehran, but he did not specify when that would take place. "Iran has a great wish to hold a peace summit with Syria and Iraq, but still it is just a thought," Suneid said, "and if it happened, we should study it very well."
The Associated Press reported Monday night that Talabani would meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this weekend but that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would not attend.
While US government flacks* attempt to get their stories and figure out how to best spin the meeting, 40 corpses are discovered in Tikrit. And Thomas Wagner (AP) reports on a raid that US flacks are also spinning:
Police Capt. Mohammed Ismail said a young boy and two other people were killed in the early morning raid and 15 people were wounded. Several houses were damaged.
Holding the child's body in his arms, a Shiite legislator told reporters outside a hospital morgue that Iraq's government should be condemned for allowing such attacks.
"I am suspending my membership in parliament since it remains silent about crimes such as this against the Iraqi people," legislator Saleh Al-Ukailli told reporters outside the Imam Ali Hospital. "I will not return to parliament until the occupation troops leave the country."
Al-Ukailli is one of 30 legislators in Iraq's 275-member parliament who follow Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric whose main offices are in Sadr City.
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[*Ava note: C.I. is referring to government flacks -- see yesterday's snapshot which already addressed the topic that Iran would participate in the summit. There seems to be some confusing regarding "government flacks." Those officially on the payroll who spun this yesterday and attempt to today. "Government flacks" does not refer to either Tavernise or Trejos.]