SYRIA REOPENS TWO POSTS ON IRAQI BORDER, NEWSLETTER SAYS

SYRIA REOPENS TWO POSTS ON IRAQI BORDER, NEWSLETTER SAYS

Syria reopened its two main border posts with Iraq to accommodate increasing cross-border trading following a clampdown on such trade by Jordan and Turkey, the authoritative weekly Middle East Economic Survey reported Monday.

Syria has cautiously reopened its border posts of al-Walid and Abu-Kamal to allow rising exports of goods from Syria and Lebanon and some Iraqi imports, the Nicosia-based newsletter said.The cross-border trade appears to have begun in December with the shipment of $15 million of Iraqi urea, a petrochemical product, to Syria, the newsletter said.

Syria and Iraq are ruled by a rival faction of the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party, and their respective leaders, Presidents Hafez Assad and Saddam Hussein, are bitter enemies.

During the Persian Gulf war that drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait, Syria

sent troops to fight on the side of the U.S.-led anti-Iraq coalition, but diplomatic sources in the region said the two countries have been taking tentative steps toward a rapprochement.

The development comes as Jordan and Turkey have both reduced their trade with Iraq, the newsletter said.