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Iraq's Talabani Meets With Syrian President Assad in Damascus

Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the first trip to Syria by an Iraqi president in almost three decades.

Baghdad and Damascus restored diplomatic ties in November after a 26-year break.

Saddam Hussein, when he was president of Iraq, severed relations with Syria in retaliation for its support of Tehran in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.

The talks took place at a presidential palace overlooking the Syrian capital. There have been few details, but Mr. Talabani was expected to ask Mr. Assad to control Syria's border in order to stop insurgents crossing into Iraq.

Talks are also focusing on boosting trade between the two countries.

Washington accuses Syria of allowing militants to slip into Iraq to join the insurgency - a charge Damascus denies.

President Bush said Wednesday that U.S. forces will cut off Syrian and Iranian networks that provide weapons and training to U.S. enemies in Iraq.

Saddam's predecessor, Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, was the last Iraqi president to visit Syria in 1979, when the two countries were ruled by branches of the same Baath party.

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