Syria to attend Geneva peace conference: Finance minister

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Syria's foreign minister said on Sunday that his government will take part in a peace conference in Geneva, terming it a "good opportunity for a political solution" to the civil war in Syria.

Walid Muallem said during a news conference in Baghdad that he had told his counterpart Hoshyar Zebari and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the decision during the previously unannounced visit to Baghdad.

Muallem told reporters that President Bashar al-Assad's regime had agreed "in principle to participate in the international conference which is supposed to be convened in Geneva".

"We think... that the international conference represents a good opportunity for a political solution to the crisis in Syria." Muallem made the Baghdad visit on the same day Iraqi authorities searched a Syria-bound aircraft that had flown from Moscow through Iranian airspace into Iraq, Nasser Bandar, the head of Iraq's civil aviation authority, told AFP.

No prohibited items were found, Bandar said.