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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
Iraq bags regional security deal
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari surrounded by Iraqi flags at conference
Zebari wants "deeds not words" from Iraq's neighbours
Iraq and its neighbours have agreed to set up a mechanism to help fight militant groups in the country.

The plan was approved at a meeting in Cairo of foreign ministers from Iraq, its six neighbours and Egypt.

The ministers expressed concerned over the security situation in Iraq and reaffirmed the "need to eliminate all terrorist and other armed groups".

Iraq wants Syria and Iran to secure their long, porous borders and stop foreign fighters from infiltrating.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the BBC that Iraq had achieved all it wanted from the Cairo meeting.

The final statement condemned "all terrorist acts against civilians, governmental, humanitarian and religious institutions", as well as diplomatic missions in Iraq.

The ministers approved an Iraqi plan to hold regular regional meetings of interior and security officials to address this issue.

Iran agreed to host the first meeting, Mr Zebari said.

Action

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo says Baghdad wants to establish channels for exchanging intelligence and security information.

Scene of attack on Baghdad police station
Iraq's security forces have borne the brunt of the latest militant activity
It is hoping that establishing a regional security mechanism will create pressures on Iraq's neighbours accused of turning a blind eye to infiltration by foreign fighters, our correspondent adds.

Both the US and the Iraqi government have accused Syria and Iran of allowing Islamic militants believed to be linked to al-Qaeda to slip into Iraqi territory.

Before Wednesday's meeting, Mr Zebari said Iraq needed "deeds and not words".

"We expect some of our neighbours to stand by the Iraqi people... to support the effort of the new Iraqi sovereign government to establish a peaceful, responsible Iraq friendly to its neighbours," he said.

The foreign ministers' meeting coincided with the first visit to Cairo by Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

He met his Egyptian counterpart, who announced afterwards that his country was prepared to provide training to the Iraqi security forces.



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