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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 March 2007, 10:51 GMT
Media urge action at Iraq talks
Arabic press

Observers in the Middle East's media believe regional talks in Baghdad involving the US, Iran and Syria could represent a real chance for a new beginning in Iraq.

An Iraqi journalist, however, warns the participants not to put their own interests first, and several commentators elsewhere in the Arabic world put the onus firmly on Syria and Iran.

But a Syrian paper dismisses US talk of a "test of seriousness" for Damascus, while a top Iranian cleric believes the conference is merely a fig leaf for continued US influence in Iraq.

SAYYAR AL-JAMIEL IN IRAQ'S AL-JEERAN

Will the Baghdad conference have the Iraqi question as the backbone of its agenda, or will it simply be just another occasion for exchanging empty speeches? No regional or international conference should be hosted in Iraq that does not put Iraq first, for it would be totally unacceptable for participants to take advantage of Iraqis' plight to settle their own differences or to strike deals at the expense of precious Iraqi blood.

RAZAN UMRAN IN SYRIA'S TISHRIN

US President Bush has said that the conference would be a test of Syria's and Iran's seriousness in helping to reduce violence in Iraq. Such talk does not imply that the US Administration is willing to start serious work to extricate Iraq from its ordeal by initiating a comprehensive political process that restores complete sovereignty and ends with an unconditional US pullout. Syria and Iran are not responsible for what is going on in Iraq.

AYATOLLAH AHMAD JANNATI, HEAD OF IRAN'S HARDLINE GUARDIAN COUNCIL, IN FRIDAY PRAYERS SERMON BROADCAST BY IRANIAN RADIO

It is called the conference of Iraq's neighbours, but the members of the UN Security Council will be there too, along with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Now what do they want to do? They want to take Iraq out of its people's hands and give the control of the government of the country to an American institution - whether Iraqi or non-Iraqi - which is completely at the service of America. They are holding this conference in order to compensate for their defeat in Iraq.

ILYAS HURFUSH IN INTERNATIONAL ARABIC PAPER AL-HAYAT

The multilateral meeting in Baghdad, which will bring together Iranian, Syrian and US diplomats is the beginning of the step announced by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier on. Will Tehran and Damascus respond to the US demands and open doors for a positive future? If they do so, then the hopes of many in the region will be dashed.

EDITORIAL IN INTERNATIONAL ARABIC AL-ARAB AL-ALAMIYAH

The results of the Baghdad Conference will be a crucial turning point in the ties between the US on one hand and Syria and Iran on the other. It will also determine in the long run the process of a settlement in Lebanon and Palestine, as well as the state of affairs in the Middle East.

EDITORIAL IN OMAN DAILY

The international conference on Iraq, which involves neighbouring countries, especially Syria and Iran, could be the last chance to find a comprehensive solution for the deteriorating security condition in Iraq. The strategic mistakes that have been made in Iraq are many, especially by the US. It is now necessary to correct these mistakes through consultative collective work.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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