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Iraq-Syria dispute jeopardizes progress on stability, trade

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Damascus denies any responsibility, while US and even senior Iraqi politicians are skeptical that Maliki has evidence for his claims. Syrian officials and Mideast analysts say, moreover, that Syria has moved to stem the tide of militants crossing its border into Iraq.

"Syria has made notable efforts to secure its borders, mainly for its own reasons, but also because it is keen to improve ties with Iraq and the US," says Peter Harling, the director for Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon with the International Crisis Group. "It is highly unlikely it would sign off on such a spectacular attack on Maliki's credibility, literally hours after his state visit to Damascus topped a long series of promising, reciprocal gestures."

Officials in Damascus say that Iraqi evidence presented to them, which was limited to a taped confession from one of the bombers and obscure satellite photographs of sites in Syria where militants allegedly receive training, is wholly inconclusive. President Assad has said that if presented with convincing evidence, he will hand suspects over.

American officials have said the explosions look more like Iraqi homegrown attacks bearing the hallmark of Al Qaeda. But the Iraqi government is standing firm in its accusations.

On Monday, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the evidence against Damascus "includes confessions, communications, financing, and logistic support by people living in Syria and who have relations with Al Qaeda."

Political, economic prosperity at stake

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