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Syria offers to help stabilize Iraq

Nov. 19, 2006 at 10:14 PM

BAGHDAD, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Syria's foreign minister, during a visit to Baghdad Sunday, said the Syrian government was ready to help stabilize Iraq.

Foreign Minister Walid Moallem also called for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops as a way to reduce the violence, The New York Times reported.

Moallem's visit reportedly took place during another day of widespread violence in Iraq.

A suicide bomber Sunday killed 17 people and injured 49 in the southern Shiite city of Hilla. Also, a deputy health minister was kidnapped from his Baghdad home.

Both crimes were said to have sectarian overtones, the Times reported.

Although President George W. Bush refuses to open talks with Syria, Iraqi and other Western officials have encouraged using Iraq's neighbors as a way to quell the nation's rising sectarian violence.

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