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U.S. Acknowledges Talks With Iraqi Insurgents

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (file photo) 27 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Senior U.S. leaders have confirmed that U.S. officials have met with people connected to Sunni Arab-led insurgents in Iraq for talks aimed at negotiating an end to the bloodshed in the country.

The top U.S. commander in the Persian Gulf region, General John Abizaid, said on U.S. television on 26 June: "American officers and certainly diplomatic people in Baghdad, and also Iraqi diplomatic leaders, have been talking with a broad range of people from the Sunni Arab community, some of whom obviously have some links to the insurgency."

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also confirmed that U.S. officials have been involved in meetings with people connected to Iraqi insurgents. He provided no details.

Three militant groups -- Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Ansar Al-Sunnah Army, and the Islamic Army in Iraq -- all denied in website statements that they had ever negotiated with United States or Iraqi officials to end the insurgency.

Rumsfeld also said that defeating the insurgency may take as long as 12 years. Rumsfeld said U.S.-led forces are seeking to create an environment in which the Iraqi people and Iraqi security forces can defeat the insurgents.

The comments came as at least 46 Iraqis and one U.S. soldier were reported killed on 26 June in a series of insurgent attacks in Mosul, around Baghdad, and elsewhere in Iraq.

(compiled from agency reports)

For the latest news and analysis on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".

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