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Shi'ite, Kurdish Leaders Meet On Violent Day In Iraq

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (file photo) (AFP) 29 December 2005 -- Iraq's most powerful Shi’ite politician met the country's Kurdish president today to sketch out plans for a grand coalition government capable of ending violent sectarian unrest.

In an illustration of that violence, 11 members of a Shi'ite family had their throats slit in an attack south of Baghdad. Police said insurgents had warned the family to move out of the largely Sunni neighborhood.

In other violence today, four policemen were reported killed in Baghdad when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Interior Ministry. Five policemen were also wounded.

Meanwhile, Shi'ite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim met with President Jalal Talabani in northern Iraq. Their blocs are seen as winning the most votes national elections this month that secular Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs say were rigged.

Talabani told reporters that he and Hakim, "agree in principle" on a national unity government. Such a cabinet is seen as including Sunni Arabs and secular Shi'ites.

Yesterday, the United Nations said Iraq's polls were transparent and rejected calls for a re-run. However, a team of international assessors from the Arab world, Canada and Europe is set to arrive in Iraq to review the elections, whose final results are expected next week.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad welcomed the review, saying Iraq needs a government established in "utmost transparency."


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