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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK
Syria 'to seal' border with Iraq
Iraqi women walk towards the passport office at the Iraqi border with Syria in al-Waleed
The US wants something done about the porous Syria-Iraq border
The US says Syria has agreed to tighten its border with Iraq to prevent militants from crossing the border.

The move followed two days of talks in Damascus between Syrian and Iraqi officials and US military commanders, US State Department officials said.

There has been no word yet from the Syrian government.

The US has long pressed Damascus to crack down on what it sees as terror groups and to prevent insurgents from moving in and out of Syria.

Now what we have to see is action on the part of the Syrians
US Secretary of State Colin Powell

"A number of understandings have come out of this meeting with respects to commitment with the Iraqi interim government and the coalition and the Syrians to stop illicit activity across the border," US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview with the AFP news agency.

"I think it is a positive step, but what really matters is action and not just an agreement," Mr Powell said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher described earlier on Wednesday the two-day Damascus talks as "constructive and positive".

Mr Boucher declined to comment on "the specific details" of the deal.

"But we do have fairly concrete understandings - particularly between the Iraqi government and the Syrian government on thing like communications,.. how they can deploy forces, how they can move together to cut off the border traffic," he said.

The US seems to have achieved its aim of moving on from political promises to specific practical measures Syria has agreed to take, the BBC's State Department correspondent Jill McGivering reports.

This follows directly from an apparent breakthrough last week at a meeting between Mr Powell and the Syrian foreign minister, our correspondent says.

Washington may feel it has some real leverage at the moment on Damascus, which currently appears particularly isolated, with new UN pressure over its presence in Lebanon, analysts say.


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