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Iraq reconciliation conference should be held on time - Moussa
Updated: 2005-12-26 10:14

Arab League (AL) Secretary-General Amr Moussa on Sunday expressed hope that a conference on Iraqi national reconciliation might be held early next year as planned despite relentless violence in the conflict-ridden country.

It is possible to hold the Iraqi National Accord Conference in Baghdad by the end of next February, as agreed by various Iraqi political and religious groups which met last month in Cairo under the auspices of the AL, Moussa told reporters.

"There is still enough time for consultations and eliminating obstacles," he said.

The pan-Arab organization has dispatched an envoy to Iraq to follow up the situation there and help implement the final communique of the Cairo preparatory meeting for the Iraqi National Accord Conference held on November 19-21.

Despite differences over several thorny issues, including drawing up a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, some 100 representatives of various Iraqi religious and political groups did agree at the meeting to hold the conference in early 2006.

More than two years since the US-led war on Iraq which ousted former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the oil-rich Arab country has witnessed relentless sectarian violence.

Disaffected Sunni Iraqis, a minority group which once dominated the country under Saddam's rule, are believed to be behind an insurgent campaign against the US-backed Iraqi government dominated by Shiites and Kurds.

Large numbers of Sunni Iraqis voted in the December 15 legislative election, a move welcomed by the Iraqi government and the United States which hope Sunni participation in the political process might lead to a decrease in violence.

But sectarian tensions have mounted in recent days over disputed election results.

On Friday, thousands of Sunni Arabs took to the street in Baghdad to protest against the partial results, which showed that a Shiite coalition won most of votes in Baghdad.

One day earlier, a total of 33 Iraqi political parties decided to form a new bloc in protest of the announced results and threatened to boycott the new parliament if their complaints are not dealt with.

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