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Iraq leaders meet to resolve political crisis

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Iraq leaders meet to resolve political crisis

Associated Press


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vahid Salemi / Associated Press

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki talks with Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, unseen, after his official arrival ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Baghdad --

Leaders from nearly all of Iraq's top political blocs called Saturday for a solution to a crisis pitting the Shiite-led government against Sunnis and Kurds, saying the dispute threatens the country's national interests.

The statement came after three days of meetings that brought together senior Sunni, Kurdish and even Shiite politicians disgruntled with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - who was not represented at the talks in Irbil, the capital of Iraq's northern Kurdish region.

While no one at the mini-summit demanded that al-Maliki step down, the fact that the discussions included key figures from across Iraq's political spectrum underscored the growing impatience with the Shiite prime minister.

Al-Maliki's critics accuse him of consolidating power and sidelining both Sunnis and Kurds, touching off a political impasse that has brought government work to a near standstill and threatens to break up Iraq.

A statement issued after the meeting in Irbil said the leaders "stressed the need for finding ways to dismantle the crisis, the continuation of which puts the supreme national interests in danger." They also discussed "ways to strengthen the democratic process."

The talks were hosted by Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish autonomous region, and included Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as well as former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and hard-line cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, both Shiites. Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, also took part.

The broad front represented at the meeting ratcheted up the pressure on al-Maliki to engage his political foes and cede to some of their demands.

The months-long political impasse began when the government issued terrorism charges against the nation's highest-ranking Sunni, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, as the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December.


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg....L#ixzz1tP8cKtmT


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