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Syrian Foreign Minister Visits Baghdad, Calls For Troop Withdrawal


Syria's foreign minister, on a diplomatic mission to Baghdad, has promised support for Iraq's government and called for a timetable for withdrawing foreign troops.

After meeting with Iraqi Foreign Finister Hoshiyar Zebari Sunday, Syria's Walid al-Moualem said Damascus condemned what he called "terrorism" in Iraq and called for a withdrawal of U.S. forces to help end sectarian fighting.

This was the the highest-level Syrian visit since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and comes amid increasing calls for the United States to seek cooperation from Syria and Iran.

The U.S. has accused Syria of allowing Sunni Arab insurgents to cross into Iraq over the Syrian border. Syria denies the allegation.

In other developments Sunday, Iraqi security officials say insurgents killed at least 50 people and kidnapped Deputy Health Minister Ammar al-Saffar, a Shi'ite.

A suicide bomber in the Shi'ite town of Hillah killed 22 people. The bomber posed as a contractor and set off explosives when a crowd of day laborers gathered around his vehicle. A police official and Iraqi television say the bomber was Syrian.

The U.S. military announced that an American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in southeastern Baghdad.

Police in Baghdad found the bodies of some 45 murder victims. Many were tortured.

There is still no sign of the four Americans and one Austrian kidnapped from a contractors' convoy in southern Iraq Thursday.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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