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Iraq's Neighbors Condemn Terrorist Attacks, Urge More Security - 2003-11-02

Arab, Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers on Sunday condemned terrorist attacks in neighboring Iraq, and urged the coalition forces there to restore security. The talks in Damascus also called for a more active United Nations role in the drafting of an Iraqi constitution and the organizing of elections.

Iraq's neighbors, plus politically important Egypt, finished their security talks in the Syrian capital with a final communique read by host Syria's foreign minister, Farouk al-Shara.

He said the ministers condemn the terrorist bombings that target civilians, humanitarian and religious institutions, embassies and international organizations working in Iraq.

Mr. Shara said he and the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt had also decided to cooperate with Iraqi authorities to prevent what the communique called any violation of borders.

There was no direct reference to the cross-border infiltration into Iraq that the United States has linked to a wave of violence there.

The Damascus communique called on what it termed the occupation forces to restore order in Iraq. It said the ministers supported the efforts of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council in Iraq, until what it called the formation of an elected and fully representative Iraqi government that fulfills the aspirations and interests of the Iraqi people and ensures equality for all the citizens of a united Iraq.

The foreign minister of Iraq's Governing Council refused to attend the talks in Damascus, which began Saturday. He was reportedly offended by the amount of time it took to invite him, as some of the countries meeting in Damascus had reservations about allowing Iraq to attend.

The communique said the ministers expressed hope that an Iraqi representative would be present at similar meetings to be held in the future in Kuwait.

The Damascus meeting of the regional foreign ministers came amid growing regional concerns over the situation in Iraq.

Reading from the communique, Mr. Shara said the ministers declare their solidarity and sympathy for the Iraqi people under the deteriorating economic, social and security situation there.

The communique also called for strengthening the United Nations' role in post-war Iraq, especially in drafting a new Iraqi constitution, holding elections and drawing up a timetable for an end to the U.S.-led coalition's presence there.