Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Maliki Getting A Jump On ISG Report

Something tells me that Maliki has an idea of what James Baker is likely to suggest in today's release of the Iraq Study Group report.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his government will send envoys to neighboring countries to pave the way for a regional conference on ending Iraq's rampant violence, which yesterday killed more than 40 people.

The Shi'ite leader appeared to back down from previous opposition to handing neighboring nations a say in Iraqi affairs but stressed that he wants the conference to be held in Iraq and while his government would welcome help, it would not tolerate interference. ...

Other top Iraqi politicians, including President Jalal Talabani and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who leads parliament's largest bloc, have in recent days rejected a suggestion for an international conference by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The outgoing UN chief said that such a gathering could be useful if the political parties involved met outside Iraq.

"These delegations I mentioned will go to these [neighboring] governments because we want a regional or international conference on Iraq to be convened, but not on the premise that it finds solutions on its own, but in light of what the national unity government wants," Maliki said.

Maliki also said a frequently delayed national reconciliation conference designed to rally the country's various ethnic, religious, and political groups around a common strategy for handling Iraq's problems would be held later this month.

He added that he planned to announce shortly a reshuffle of his six-month-old government "to boost the effectiveness and strength of the national unity government," but he gave no details.


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