The Iraqi foreign minister called Sunday for the release of five Iranians detained by U.S. forces in what he said was a legitimate diplomatic mission in northern Iraq, but he stressed that foreign intervention to help insurgents would not be tolerated. The two-pronged statement by Hoshyar Zebari highlighted the delicate balance facing the Iraqi government as it tries to secure Baghdad with the help of American forces while maintaining ties with its neighbors, including U.S. rivals Iran and Syria.
In another indication of Iraqi efforts to reach out to neighbors hostile to the U.S., Iraqi President Jalal Talabani visited Syria on Sunday, becoming the first Iraqi president to travel to the country in nearly three decades. Syria's official news agency SANA said that the talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad and Talabani focused on "bilateral relations" and that both sides expressed a desire to strengthen ties.
At least 78 people were reported killed or found dead Sunday, including 41 bullet-riddled bodies discovered in Baghdad. The U.S. military also said an American soldier died Saturday in an explosion in northern Iraq, while a roadside bomb killed a soldier Sunday and wounded four others in Baghdad. Separately, the Iraqi army arrested 50 suspected insurgents and seized nearly 2,000 rockets in a raid northeast of Baghdad.
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