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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Asks Russia for Help With Syria

APLavrov, right, meeting Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari for talks on Monday.
Iraq's foreign minister on Monday called on Russia to use its close ties with Syria to urge it to do more to seal its border with his violence-wracked country and accused neighboring states of interfering in Iraqi affairs.

"We really do have problems with our neighboring countries, including with Syria," Hoshyar Zebari told reporters after meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"We asked Russia, using its authority, to provide assistance to help us agree with some of our neighbors on issues dealing with security," Zebari said. "Russia has good relations with our neighbors, Syria and Iran."

Syria, which insists it is trying to beef up its border with Iraq, is an important infiltration route for foreign fighters sneaking into the country, where a fierce insurgency is raging against U.S-led forces and the Iraqi government.

"Most of the terrorists and killers who operate by themselves or in groups, they are not Iraqis, they come from outside our country," Zebari said.

He said the Iraqi government also wanted to investigate in cooperation with Syria the alleged existence of terrorist training centers. He did not specify where the centers might exist.

Although he said Iran was interfering in Iraq, he noted that Tehran was not negating "all the efforts of our government" and was ready to discuss the problem of infiltration through its borders with Iraq.

Lavrov said Russia supported the efforts of the Iraqi leadership to stabilize the situation in the country, and he called for greater efforts at "inter-Iraqi dialogue, which aims to achieve national unity."

"Russia supports the efforts of the international community which supports the work of the Iraqi leadership, which aims to stabilize the situation inside Iraq," Lavrov said.