The Iraqi Vice-President, Saddam Hussein, heading the first delegation from his country to visit Syria in more than ten years, said on Monday (29 January) both sides had agreed to meet again soon in Baghdad.
The Iraqi Vice-President, Saddam Hussein, heading the first delegation from his country to visit Syria in more than ten years, said on Monday (29 January) both sides had agreed to meet again soon in Baghdad. He said that an important joint announcement would be made then. Vice-President Hussein did not elaborate on what the statement was liable to contain, but the two countries are aiming for total unity. The Syrian Information Minister, Ahmed Iskander, said recently that the ministers and generals meeting in Damascus would discuss a draft constitution formula for the projected new state.
SYNOPSIS: The Iraqi delegation, which arrived in Damascus on Sunday (28 January), was led by Vice-President Saddam Hussein because the country's President, Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, was too ill to make the trip. The Vice-President was welcomed to Damascus by Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and senior ministers.
The creation of a militant Arab state extending from the Mediterranean to the Gulf, with combined armed forces of almost half-a-million men would, i theory, pose a serious threat to Israel. But there are basic differences between the two countries which are traditional rivals. Damascus has not given up hop??? of reaching a comprehensive settlement on the Arab-Israeli conflict through negotiations, while Baghdad remains committed to war as the only solution.
The first step towards total unity is expected to be the merger of three key ministries, according to Arab diplomats. The leaders are expected to announce the formation of joint Foreign, Defence and Information Ministries at the end of their talks.
Arab unity is the goal of the ruling Ba'ath parties in both countries, but ten years of deep political division have left a legacy of suspicion between the two nations which will be difficult to surmount.