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Iraqi government reaches out to militants
Updated: 2005-07-04 11:13

Militants who have targeted foreign troops in Iraq before January's historic elections can join the country's political process, the prime minister's spokesman said Sunday.

The government, however, rules out talks with insurgents killing Iraqi civilians or security forces, said Laith Kuba, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Shiite-led government.

The Jan. 30 election was the country's first free balloting in decades. Those elections, however, were boycotted by the vast majority of Sunni Arabs either because of unwillingness or fear of the insurgency that the minority sect now dominates.

Kuba said that insurgents fighting the presence of coalition troops "can realize their goal, which is to expedite the withdrawal of these forces from Iraq, through the political process."

But "those who carry out random killings have no values or relations with the country that qualify them to negotiate or come close to the political process," he told reporters. "The political process now aims to include the groups that were resisting and targeting the foreign troops in Iraq until before the elections."

Kuba also confirmed recent reports that U.S. military officials had already met with armed groups.

"There have been contacts made between some of these armed groups and the U.S. forces. The Iraqi government...encourages these channels and contacts. The door is open for them to be part of the political process," he said.

He added the distinction was clear between the two types of groups fighting in Iraq "groups that target civilians and Iraqi military and police personnel through random killings and between the groups that were resisting or targeting the foreign forces."

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