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Iranians Arrive For Talks With Iraqi Militia Leader

Al-Sadr fighters PRAGUE, 14 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- An Iranian Foreign Ministry delegation arrived in Iraq today to seek a resolution to the current standoff between the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and radical Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has pledged to rid Iraq of occupation forces.

A spokesman for al-Sadr, Haidar Aziz, said the Iranian delegation might have face-to-face talks with al-Sadr, whom U.S. military leaders have vowed to "kill or capture" amid continued fighting between coalition troops and al-Sadr's Shi'a militia.

One of al-Sadr's aides, Qais al-Khazaali, said al-Sadr is willing to drop his conditions on talks with the coalition and accept the decisions of top Shi'a spiritual leaders.

Some 2,500 U.S. troops are massed on the outskirts of the Iraqi city of Al-Najaf, where al-Sadr is believed to be located. Al-Sadr's militia this month has led a violent revolt against coalition forces in areas of Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said government officials have been in "dialogue" with U.S. officials over the situation in Iraq, but that it has now ended.

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