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Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Leaves Qatar

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi
Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi
Iraq's fugitive Sunni vice president has reportedly left Qatar after a four day visit. Qatar’s state news agency said Tariq al-Hashimi left the country on April 4.

News agencies quoted an unidentified Saudi official as saying Hashimi had arrived in Saudi Arabia.

Hashimi arrived in Doha on April 1, reportedly for an official visit, after having taken refuge in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region since December.

Iraq, which has issued a warrant for Hashimi's arrest on terror charges, called on Qatar to extradite the suspect to stand trial in Baghdad. The Sunni-led Persian Gulf kingdom rejected the request.

Reconciliation Meeting Delayed

Meanwhile in related news, Iraq's parliament speaker says a national reconciliation meeting scheduled this week has been delayed because of what he described as "mounting differences" among rival political groups.

Osama al-Nujaifi told a press conference on April 4 that the meeting had been postponed indefinitely.

He said holding the talks now would only complicate matters but did not elaborate.

The meeting was due to formally open on April 5. Iraq's Sunnis accuse the Shi'ite-led government of seeking to marginalize them and targeting senior Sunni politicians, such as Hashimi.

The country's Kurds are also at odds with the central government over several issues, including territorial disputes, oil-field development, and oil revenues in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had called for a national conference on April 5 in a bid to bridge political differences in the country.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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