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Iraqi Premier Presents National Reconciliation Plan

Nuri al-Maliki (file photo) (epa) PRAGUE, June 25, 2006 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al-Maliki presented a reconciliation plan today to try curb sectarian violence and the insurgency that has crippled the reconstruction of the country.

Stressing the importance of national reconciliation and dialogue, al-Maliki presented the plan to parliament following intense negotiation among the parties that make up the governing coalition.

"I greet you and thank you greatly for the opportunity to present this plan on reconciliation and national dialogue, hoping that -- on the one hand -- it will realize, along with other steps taken, an opportunity to improve the painful reality that our country and dear people continue to experience; and -- on the other hand -- that it reflects on the services, economy, and political stability," al-Maliki said.

An Olive Branch

Al-Maliki said he was offering an "olive branch" to insurgents who renounce violence but said to those who "insist on killing and terrorism we present a fist of power of law."

He said the amnesty does not apply to those who have already committed murder or terrorist acts.

Al-Maliki, a Shi'a, also said that political parties taking part in the government must clearly reject "terrorists and Saddamists" and that his government would address the "problem of militias and illegal armed groups."

Urges Coalition To Respect Human Rights

Al-Maliki said the U.S.-led foreign troops must respect human rights. The U.S. military is currently investigating the deaths of 24 civilians at AlHadithah in November.

But the prime minister's plan does not set any timetable for Iraqi troops to take over security duties from U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq. It was expected that al-Maliki would give some sort of schedule for such a shift in duties.

"There are some foreign parties who are pushing the country to the brink of the civil war," an unidentified Baghdad man told Reuters. "These foreign parties have an organizations inside Iraq who finance them and offer all kinds of support, material, logistic, etc. There is a thing that presents an obstacle to national reconciliation. That is the officials' narrow interest. Everyone of them is thinking of his own interest, disregarding the interest of Iraq and Iraqi people."

Politicians Respond

Sunni leader Adnan al-Dulaymi called on all the people of Iraq to support the initiative because it will be the first step in achieving security and stability then start building the new Iraq.

Before the plan was presented, parliament speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni, cautioned that the plan was not a "magic solution" but an attempt to "mend the cracks" in Iraqi society.

U.S. Response

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad urged Iraqi insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace al-Maliki's plan.

Khalilzad told reporters that all insurgents should join the political and democratic process in the "new Iraq." He said national reconciliation will be difficult to implement in the short term, but in the long run it is the "right strategic move."

Iraq In Transition

Iraq In Transition

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