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Page last updated at 09:43 GMT, Monday, 31 August 2009 10:43 UK

Turks begin Iraq-Syria mediation

Footage shown at Iraqi police news conference showing alleged confession of Saudi-born militant
Iraq has been showing confessions of alleged Syrian-trained insurgents

Turkey has begun mediation between Iraq and Syria amid a deepening diplomatic row over insurgency bombings in Iraq.

Iraq accuses Syria of hosting camps to train insurgents and harbouring those responsible for recent bombings.

Syria has condemned the violence and has challenged Baghdad to provide evidence for its accusations.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has arrived for meetings in Baghdad, saying he hopes to re-establish an atmosphere of mutual trust between Iraq and Syria.

"If there is trust and goodwill between the two sides, it will be easier to overcome a crisis such as this," Mr Davutoglu told reporters at Ankara airport.

Confidence in Iraq's government and security forces was severely shaken by bomb attacks on 19 August at the foreign and finance ministries which killed about 100 people.

'Religious teaching'

On Sunday, Iraqi security officials made fresh accusations about Syria's alleged role, showing journalists footage of what they said was a Saudi militant confessing he had attended a training camp in Syria.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry after 19 August attack, for which Iraq blames Syria
The ministry bomb attacks were among the worst in Iraq since 2003

The 29-year-old, calling himself Muhammad al-Shamari, said he then crossed into Iraq and carried out a number of attacks.

"They taught us lessons in Islamic law and trained us to fight. The camp was well known to Syrian intelligence," he said.

Last week, Iraqi police aired the confession of an Iraqi man saying a former Iraqi Baathist based in Syria had ordered the ministry attacks. It is impossible to verify any of the claims.

Iraq recalled its ambassador from Damascus to protest about the allegations, and Syria retaliated within hours by ordering back its envoy from Baghdad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has brushed aside Baghdad's accusations, saying stability in Iraq was in Syria's interests.

Mr Davutoglu will meet Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, before travelling to Damascus for talks with President Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

Iraq and Syria revived diplomatic links in 2006, after more than 20 years of mutual hostility. Turkey has previously helped mediate talks - now suspended again - between Syria and its arch-foe Israel.



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