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Iraqi Neighbors Give Key Support to Interim Government - 2004-06-15

The legitimacy of Iraq's interim government received a crucial boost Tuesday after the country's neighbors endorsed the newly formed government. Hours later, foreign ministers from some 50 Islamic countries gathered in Istanbul approved a draft resolution backing the Iraqi interim government.

Iraq's neighbors, Iran, Turkey, Syria, as well as a leading Arab power, Egypt, declared their support for Iraq's new interim government. Western diplomats say it remains unclear to what extent, if at all, Tuesday's declaration of support from the neighboring countries will help curb insurgency in Iraq.

Diplomats add, however, that support from Iraq's neighbors will likely bolster the newly formed interim government's legitimacy as the United States prepares to transfer sovereignty to Iraq on June 30.

The meeting of Iraq's neighbors came on the sidelines of a gathering of Islamic foreign ministers under the umbrella of the largest Islamic grouping worldwide, known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The foreign ministers are expected to issue a final declaration at the close of the three-day session Wednesday, calling for measures to ensure the success of Iraq's first ever experiment with democracy.

Turkish officials attending the conference told VOA that such support would likely include helping rebuild Iraq's war shattered infrastructure, providing medical assistance and training new civil servants. The officials said, however, that there was no discussion of sending troops to Iraq to help stabilize the country.

In a separate development, OIC foreign ministers were set to appoint a new secretary general. Turkey and Bangladesh are the remaining contenders for the post after Malaysia withdrew its candidate.