Blair welcomes renewal of Iraq-Syria relations

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday welcomed the restoration of diplomatic relations between Iraq and Syria, and called on Damascus to help its violence-torn neighbor achieve stability. Iraq and Syria restored diplomatic ties Tuesday, 24 years after severing them during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, in which Syria backed Iran. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem visited Iraq Sunday, the first such visit by a senior Syrian official since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein's regime "The very thing we have been seeking is that Syria becomes of help to Iraq in its process of progress and overcoming its challenges and difficulties at the moment rather than being a hindrance," Blair told reporters during a press conference at his 10 Downing St. office. "From our perspective this is the right thing to do; it is the indication of the potential for a different relationship."