The neighbours on Saturday also agreed to hold a meeting of their interior ministers in Turkey in the coming weeks to discuss details of how they could better monitor their borders.

 

Syria, meanwhile, announced it would restore relations with Iraq after a break of more than two decades in ties between the neighbours.

 

The decisions were made during a meeting in Turkey of the foreign ministers of Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey and Egypt. Saudi Arabia also attended, but was represented by its deputy foreign minister.

 

Iraq's neighbours have been deeply concerned that violence and ethnic instability in Iraq could spread throughout the region, and that danger was a major topic of discussion during the meeting, held at a former Ottoman palace overlooking the Bosporus in Istanbul.

 

End to violence

 

All of Iraq's neighbours except non-Arab Shia Iran are Sunni-controlled. Iran has said it wants an end to violence in its big western neighbour.

 

Zibari (L) urged the neighbours
to secure Iraq's borders

For its part, Iraq called on its neighbours to support its new government and help secure its borders to promote stability and keep the country together.

   

"We will hold them to their words. We expect more assistance. Our neighbours can help, can be more constructive," Foreign Minister Hushiar Zibari told reporters on the sidelines.

 

In their final communique, the neighbours "expressed their determination ... to increase their cooperation on the overall border security with Iraq ... including ... exchange of intelligence with Iraq with the primary aim of stemming terrorist and other illegal infiltrations to and from Iraq."

 

It was not clear what steps the neighbours could take.

 

Pledge

 

The meeting was the eighth such by the neighbours who "pledged to support and cooperate with the newly elected" government and stressed the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq.


"Iraq cannot be a place where one entity prevails over the others, nor can it be a place divided up as desired"

Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
Turkish prime minister

"Iraq cannot be a place where one entity prevails over the others, nor can it be a place divided up as desired," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as he opened the meeting.

 

Erdogan stressed that violence in Iraq was a source of concern to all neighbouring countries. "Such attempts will meet the reaction of the countries of the region and the international community," he said.

   

"It is very important that this meeting was held right after the formation of the Iraqi government because it is important for the protection of the whole region," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said.

 

The next meeting would be held in the Iranian capital, Tehran.