Syria has announced that it will attend what could be an unprecedented meeting called by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. In a major move to bring peace to Iraq, the prime minister has called on Iraq's neighbors and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to meet in Baghdad March 10.
The meeting would be a chance, as Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari put it, for Syria and possibly Iran to solve differences with Western countries over Iraq.
The international community needs to make efforts to restore peace and stability in Iraq.
The support of Iraq's neighbors is vital. Peace and stability in Iraq are needed both to stop the destruction of this bloodied country and to build stability in the Middle East.
Iraq's continued instability is likely to have an adverse impact on the security of the entire region and beyond.
As we have seen, the problem of insecurity cannot be solved through military means alone. Political solutions are required.
The United States is pressing its new policy of diplomatic efforts, saying on Thursday it will send Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey to Syria.
Her visit this month will be part of a regional tour dealing with humanitarian issues related to Iraqi refugees. Sauerbrey, who handles refugee and migration affairs at the US State Department, will be authorized to meet with her Syrian counterparts to discuss the refugee issue.
Some one million Iraqi refugees have fled to Syria since 2003.
Sauerbrey will be the highest-ranking US official to visit Syria since early 2005, when then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage traveled to Damascus. The United States withdrew its ambassador after Syrian authorities were implicated in the February 2005 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that she and other US officials will join their Syrian and Iranian counterparts in coming weeks at conferences on Iraq's future.
Although the possibility of bilateral talks between the US and Syria or Iran has not been announced, the US seems to be adjusting its policies on the two countries.
Inviting Syria and Iran to the Iraq talks may help Iraq to find the desperately needed path to peace and stability.
(China Daily March 5, 2007)