According to SANA, the state news agency, Farouk al-Shara, Syria's foreign minister, said on Thursday: "There will be an exchange of ambassadors between Damascus and Baghdad and an exchange of delegations ... for collaboration in politics, security, economics and business."

Syria was among the most vocal opponents of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein's Baathist government.

The United States and Iraqi officials have since complained that Syria is not doing enough to stop Islamist fighters from crossing its long border into Iraq.

Tense relations

The two countries severed ties when Syria sided with Iran during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Relations were already tense at the time because of a split in the Baath Party, with Syria and Iraq led by rival factions.

The Baath Party, which has its roots in secularism, socialism and Arab nationalism, continues to dominate Syrian politics.

Iraq, which held elections in December, is in the process of forming a government.