Saudi Arabia, an arch rival of Iraq,
has joined Syria in condemning the recent U.S.-British air strikes
against Baghdad, officials said on Wednesday.
In a joint communiqué issued late on
Tuesday at the end of a meeting of the Syrian-Saudi Commission, the
foreign ministers of Syria, Farouq al-Shara, and Saudi Arabia, Prince
Saud al-Faisal, declared their support for Iraq's sovereignty and
``Both sides expressed feelings of
denunciation and anxiety over the recent escalation against south
Baghdad,'' it said in the communiqué.
``It (escalation) came at a time when
wide consultations were being conducted to tackle the whole (Iraqi)
issue at the next Arab summit in Amman in a way that preserves
security in the region and the sovereignty and territorial integrity
of Iraq,'' it said.
The Arab summit will be held in the
Jordanian capital next month.
Earlier Syria condemned Friday's
attacks by the U.S. and British jets just south of Baghdad, saying it
would increase tension in the region.
Washington and London said the
attacks were launched to protect their pilots patrolling
Western-imposed no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. They were
the first air strikes in the Baghdad region since December 1998.
U.S. and British warplanes have
patrolled the no-fly zones since soon after the 1991 Gulf War, when
Iraq invaded Kuwait.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday
Prince Saud said that all problems between the two countries could be
solved ``if there is good intention.''
Asked about threats by Baghdad
against Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for providing facilities for the air
campaign, the minister said the issue would be discussed at the Arab
Iraq fired several missiles against
Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War in which Saudi Arabia took a leading
SYRIA WANTS IRAQ BACK IN ARAB FOLD
``We are exerting all efforts, within
the framework of the international legitimacy, to lift all economic
sanctions imposed on Iraq and to solve all problems and negative
consequences that resulted from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait,'' one
official quoted Shara as saying during the closed meeting on Tuesday.
``But what happened (air strikes)
constituted a kind of frustration for our efforts,'' Shara said.
Ties between Syria and Iraq, ruled by
rival factions of the Baath party, were damaged at the beginning of
the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war in which Syria sided with Tehran.
Relations further deteriorated after
Damascus joined a U. S. -led multinational force that drove Iraqi
troops out of Kuwait in 1991 -- but have improved dramatically over
the last few years.
Both states agreed to reopen their
borders and engage in economic and commercial cooperation in line with
Baghdad's so-called oil-for-food agreement with the United Nations.
Source: The New York