AFP - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu arrived in Baghdad on Monday aiming to defuse tensions between Iraq and Syria triggered by Iraqi claims that Damascus was sheltering insurgents.
"We will try to re-establish an atmosphere of trust between the two sides," Davutoglu told reporters at Ankara airport before his departure.
"If there is trust and goodwill between them, it will be easier to overcome a crisis such as this."
Relations between Iraq and Syria deteriorated after Baghdad alleged that Damascus was harbouring leaders behind one of two devastating truck bombings that killed 95 people and wounded about 600 in the Iraqi capital on August 19.
Iraq's state-sponsored Al-Sabah newspaper said Davutoglu would urge Iraq not to seek UN help to secure the return of suspects it accuses Syria of haerbouring
He would push for an urgent meeting in Ankara between Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem, the report said, as well as a security meeting where Iraq would present evidence that residents in Syria were planning violence against its neighbour.
Last week, Iraq recalled its ambassador in Damascus and Syria retaliated within hours by ordering back its envoy from Baghdad.
Davutoglu was to hold talks with President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Zebari before moving on to Damascus to meet President Bashar al-Assad and Muallem.
He said he held a lengthy telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday about his trip.
Turkey, a NATO member and a candidate for EU membership, has in recent years focused on boosting its political and economic cooperation with Middle Eastern countries and sought to set itself up as a broker in regional conflicts.