Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari spoke at a press conference at Damascus International Airport on Tuesday, prior to Jaafari’s departure.
Jaafari said his visit to Damascus was part of the efforts to strengthen relations between Iraq and other countries, particularly neighboring countries, underlining the historical and geographic ties and mutual interests that bind Iraq and Syria together.
He noted that whenever the world turned its back on Iraqis, Syria was there to embrace them, saying: “we will never forget those who stand by our people, defend our security and their own, and our sovereignty and their own.”
“Today, relations rose to the level of strategies and the mutual threat that is targeting Syria and Iraq, and looms in other areas of the world,” he said, adding that today’s meeting is an expression of the social structures that are responding to the threat of ISIS.
Jaafari thanked President Bashar al-Assad for receiving him and for Muallem’s invitation to visit Damascus.
“The world is now beginning to understand the threat of ISIS after a long slumber thinking that it was merely an Iraqi and Syrian phenomenon, only for it to turn out to be otherwise; the whole world today is threatened by terrorism,” he said.
The minister said that Syria, in its fight against terrorism, is defending all neighboring countries, and that Syria and Iraq are the first line of defense against terrorism, hoping that regional countries will understand the vital role played by Syria and Iraq in this regard.
Jaafari lauded the Syrian government’s efforts to push forward with the political process and cooperate with the opposition.
Jaafari also hoped that his visit to Syria would pave the way for coordination between the two countries to improve beyond the current level.
“It is odd to have any neighboring country feeling at ease with terrorism that burns the living, murders children, and violates underage girls… how can they be at ease and feel safe from terrorism that is indiscriminate towards people?” he said.
For his part, Minister Muallem said Syria and Iraq stand in the same trench against terrorism.
“Whenever Iraq is okay, Syria is okay too, and that’s why we are deeply confident that the Iraqi leaders have never spared any efforts to support Syria and help break the siege imposed on it,” he added.
Commenting on statements made by the Jordanian Information Minister that Amman is training Syrian tribes on Jordanian territory, Muallem said the statements did not present anything new, “except that they prove what we have been saying about the existence of training camps for terrorists in Jordan.”
Muallem said that Syria and Iraq have a clear and common goal, but sadly some Arab states employ double standards, commenting on the statement of Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on the so-called moderate opposition that the US attempts to promote: “I say that all those who bear arms against the Syrian state’s establishment are terrorists.
“Saud al-Faisal said that President Assad has no future… this is a joke. He’s speaking on behalf of the Syrian people, since when? This is why I say this is a joke,” he added.
On the upcoming Moscow II meeting due to be held in April, Muallem said that in the last communiqué with the Russian side, the Syrian government made no conditions for the meeting. President Assad informed the Russians that Syria will exert every possible effort to ensure its success, so the Russian Foreign Ministry will be the one issuing invitations to opposition figures.
“We are open and we will attend. As for the level of presentation in the Syrian government delegation, that is up to President Assad to decide,” he concluded.