Following the signing by Syria and Iraq of a 'National Charter of Joint Action' in Baghdad last month, there have been increasing signs of improvement in relations between the two countries.
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Background: Following the signing by Syria and Iraq of a 'National Charter of Joint Action' in Baghdad last month, there have been increasing signs of improvement in relations between the two countries. The Joint Committee set up as part of the agreement has met to discuss political industrial and agricultural co-operation, and measures restricting travel between the two countries have been relaxed.
SYNOPSIS: The 'National Charter of Joint Action' ends years of bitter dispute between Syria and Iraq. They are ruled by rival factions of the Arab Ba'ath socialist party and were deeply split on ideological matters.
Syria's Foreign Minister, Abdel-Halim Khaddam, says the charter is a 'basic step towards establishing a single state'. One of the first results of the charter is the relaxation of border restrictions. A Lebanese traveller talked about the new arrangements.
The new regulations are specially beneficial to Syrian and Iraqi nationals. Travel between the two states was previously restricted to a small minority of passport holders but now travellers will only have to produce identification papers. Air fares between the two countries are to be reduced to encourage wider use.
Observers in Baghdad quoted by Reuters news agency say the re-establishment of normal relations will probably mean that Iraqi oil will once again be pumped through Syria to Mediterranean terminals, as well as meeting Syria's crude oil needs. Syria and Iraq are also planning full military union. Reuters say these moves could change the balance of power in the Middle East.