Syrian foreign minister to begin visit to Iraq

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem will begin a landmark visit to Iraq Sunday, a key parliamentarian and Iraqi Foreign Ministry official said. Moallem would be the highest ranking Syrian official to visit since the US-ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and a major step toward restoring diplomatic relations, Kurdish legislator Mahmoud Othman said. A senior Foreign Ministry official confirmed the visit on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Moallem is scheduled to arrive in the afternoon and will meet Hoshyar Zebari, his Iraqi counterpart, Othman said. Syria's top diplomat also was to meet with President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during his two-day visit.