May 14, 2007 / 6:11 PM / 12 years ago

Mideast issues broached in Brussels meet

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is shown in this file picture. Beckett met Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem on Monday as part of Western moves to re-engage Damascus over Middle East peace efforts and Iraq. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett met Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem on Monday as part of Western moves to re-engage Damascus over Middle East peace efforts and Iraq.

British officials said the two met for around an hour on the sidelines of EU-Arab League talks in Brussels and spoke about Iran, Iraq and the Middle East, a British official said.

It followed a visit by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Damascus in March that ended a two-year freeze on high-level EU contacts with Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Moualem earlier this month, further easing Syrian isolation.

The EU decision to re-engage Syria came after France dropped its objections to contacts with Damascus, which a U.N. inquiry has implicated in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Syria is seen as possibly playing an important role in easing tensions in Iraq, and Brussels has pledged to help it deal with Iraqi refugees flooding across its borders.

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