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إقامة كأس الخليج 20 في اليمن من عدمها

يتناول برنامج في المرمى موضوع إقامة كأس الخليج 20 في اليمن من عدمها

He has had a troubled relationship with Syria but has recently sought to mend ties.

A Syrian official statement said President Bashar al-Assad had emphasised "the importance of coming up with a unity cabinet" for Iraq during his meeting with Maliki.

Maliki, a Shiite, has already received backing for his bid to remain in power from Shiite groups with links to Iran.

Iraq's Arab neighbors, along with the United States, are worried that a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government retaining Maliki might exclude a cross-sectarian bloc, supported by Sunnis, which received the most votes in the election. They are pressing for a "unity" government to include that bloc.

Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani accompanied Maliki. Political differences between the two countries have stalled oil and gas deals, such as a plan to reopen a pipeline linking Iraqi oil fields to a Syrian port, and improving cooperation in the sector could be key to winning Syrian support for Maliki.

The rift between Syria and Maliki, who has backing from Iran, exposed differences between frequent allies Damascus and Tehran over Iraq.

Maliki's visit to Damascus coincided with the first visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Lebanon, where Syria and Iran both support Shiite militants Hezbollah.

Syria, which has a 600-km (375-mile) border with Iraq, adopted a more conciliatory attitude toward Maliki after Ahmadinejad met Assad twice in the last several weeks.

Envoy returns

On Sunday, Iraq's ambassador to Damascus resumed his duties, more than a year after the spat set off by massive truck bombings in Baghdad. Iraq said these were plotted in Syria, a charge denied by Damascus.

The Syrian and Iraqi envoys were recalled by their respective governments in August 2009 in the wake of the bombings, which devastated the finance and foreign affairs ministries and left 95 dead and around 600 wounded.

Iraq accused Syria of sheltering two insurgents -- Mohammed Yunis al-Ahmed and Sattam Farhan -- who orchestrated the bomb attacks, prompting denials from Damascus.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said last month the request for the extradition of the two men was still pending, but that Iraq believed "relations need to develop with good will from both sides."

Dabbagh added that Baghdad wanted to boost economic ties with Damascus, after the two sides agreed last month to build two oil pipelines from Iraq through Syria to Mediterranean seaports for exporting crude.

Diplomatic ties were severed in 1980 when the countries were ruled by rival wings of the Baath party and Syria backed Iran in a devastating war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq that broke out that year.

Relations started to thaw in 2000 and the two states decided in 2006 to resume formal ties, three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that was opposed by Damascus.

In April 2009, Mohammed Naji Otri made the first trip by a Syrian premier to Iraq since the invasion that toppled Saddam and his Sunni-dominated government.

US welcomes Iraq-Syria talks

The United States welcomed Wednesday's talks in Damascus between al-Assad and al-Maliki, saying they can help bring Baghdad back to the regional fold.

"We are certainly supportive of the dialogue that has occurred today between Syria and Iraq," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

"They should have constructive relations so that... each can play an appropriate role... to help reintegrate Iraq into the region," Crowley added.

The Obama administration is engaging diplomatically with Syria, a former foe, in a bid to promote Arab-Israeli peace, distance Damascus from its ally Iran, and to ensure militants do not cross from Syria into Iraq.