Syrian FM: We agree ‘in principle’ to attend Geneva peace conference

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Syria’s foreign minister said on Sunday that his government will take part in a peace conference in Geneva, terming it a “good opportunity for a political solution” to the civil war in Syria.

Walid Muallem said during a news conference in Baghdad that he had told his counterpart Hoshyar Zebari and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the decision a previously unannounced visit to Baghdad.

“Syria will in principle participate in the international conference planned for June in Geneva,” Muallem told reporters after talks with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad. “We believe the meeting presents a good opportunity to resolve the Syrian crisis.”

Muallem's visit comes after Iraq on Saturday launched a massive operation to better secure its western desert amid concerns it is being used by militants heading to fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in neighboring Syria.

Among the mostly-Sunni rebels fighting Assad’s regime are groups allied to Al-Qaeda. That has fueled fears in Baghdad of a spillover from war-torn Syria increasing tensions and violence in Iraq.

The more than two-year uprising in Syria has reportedly left more than 94,000 people dead.

Iraq has sought to publicly avoid siding either with Assad’s regime or with rebel forces, but it has been accused by Western governments of turning a blind eye in particular to Iranian overflights allegedly carrying military equipment for regime forces.

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