Al Rubay'i read an English-language version of a statement purportedly from al-Sadr to the Shi'a clerical hierarchy of Al-Najaf that said: "I [Muqtada al-Sadr] announce my agreement to the following plan: eliminating all armed manifestations, putting government buildings to use by the government offices and institutions, [and] withdrawing all Mahdi Army fighters who are not citizens of Najaf from this city."
Al-Sadr reportedly called in return for murder charges against him to be suspended.
But there has been no response from U.S. command. The U.S.-led coalition consistently has said it will not negotiate with al-Sadr and that to end the confrontation he must disband his militia and agree to face justice.
The Imam Al-Mahdi Army began battling U.S.-led coalition troops in April after the arrest of a key aide and the announcement of a warrant for al-Sadr's arrest in the 2003 slaying of a rival cleric. The militia has received support from Shi'ites in Baghdad and southern cities.
Yesterday, U.S. forces were reported to have arrested a key deputy to al-Sadr, Riyadh al-Nouri, in Al-Najaf.
The U.S. military also reported killing a "very large number" of al-Sadr's militiamen in fighting in Al-Najaf and the so-called Al-Sadr City area of Baghdad. Local officials reported roughly 25 deaths in Al-Najaf.