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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Syria Agrees to Resume Iraqi Ties, Halt Border Crossings

CAIRO, Egypt -- Syria has agreed to resume full diplomatic ties with Baghdad and has begun sealing its border with Iraq to stop illegal crossings, interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Monday.

The United States has been pressuring Syria to do more to prevent suspected Islamic militants from entering Iraq as American-led forces have geared up to assault the rebel-held city of Fallujah ahead of elections scheduled for January.

"I would like to announce here that the Syrian government agreed, on the basis of a request from the Iraqi government, for the restoration of full diplomatic representation between Iraq and Syria," Zebari said.

"There is a positive response by the Syrian government to the Iraqi government's demands on joint security cooperation in controlling the borders and stopping infiltration," he told reporters during a visit to Cairo for talks with his Egyptian counterpart.

Syrian officials said Damascus currently has a charge d'affaires in Baghdad.

Zebari also said Syria had begun putting sand barriers along parts of its border with Iraq to stop illegal crossing.

"We always expect more. But these measures are encouraging and very useful," he said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara said during a visit to Cairo on Sunday his country had reached a border cooperation deal with Iraq.

Shara said that Iraqi Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib would travel to Damascus soon to sign the border cooperation protocol.

Syria, together with Iraq's other neighbors, the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Group of Eight top industrialized countries will attend a conference in Egypt on Iraq later this month.

"We want international support for the political transition in Iraq to an elected, representative government," Zebari said of the conference, due to be held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.