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CAIRO, January 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Iraq is by no means a party to Syria’s civil war, the country’s prime minister said Monday after talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“We are not participating in the armed conflict in Syria in any way,” Nouri al-Maliki told journalists in the Iraqi capital. “Baghdad speaks for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in that country.”
The ongoing hostilities between Syrian government troops and rebels that broke out in 2011 have claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced millions, according to UN statistics.
Al-Maliki said there was no alternative to an upcoming international peace conference on Syria, dubbed ‘Geneva-2,’ adding that “Iraq and the entire region will be facing a disaster,” should it fail to bring positive results.
The Iraqi premier confirmed that his country would attend the Geneva forum, which had been pushed through by the United States and Russia and is due January 22.
Al-Maliki said he and Ban had discussed practical steps required to “alleviate the suffering of Syrians.” According to his data, there are some 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq.
The UN chief arrived in Baghdad on Monday for talks with Iraq’s leaders. The negotiations also touch upon the situation in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, where the Iraqi armed forces are conducting a large-scale counterterrorism operation with support from local Sunni tribes.
Speaking at a joint news conference with al-Maliki, Ban urged the Iraqi leadership to fight terrorism and called for a political dialogue.