"I hope Iraq will change, that we will see another Iraq where Iraqis from all walks of life live together in peace and love," he told members of parliament on Sunday, who greeted his speech with a standing ovation.

The secretary-general of the 22-member Arab League arrived on Saturday to meet regional president Masud Barzani in a symbolic visit that marked Arab League recognition of the Kurdish autonomous region.

Moussa, on his first trip to Iraq since the US invasion in 2003, said on Saturday that he had won crucial backing from Shia spiritual leader Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani for his plan to reconcile Iraq's divided communities.

"We have always understood the Kurdish people's ambitions," Moussa told a news conference in Arbil.

Moussa last week met the influential Sunni organisation, the Association of Muslim Scholars, and several members of the government in Baghdad.

Sadr's rejection


However, Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr rejected Moussa's overtures, continuing to insist that the league clearly condemn the fighting before he would talk with the pan-Arab body, which wants to hold a preparatory conference in Cairo on 15 November ahead of full talks in Iraq.

 

"We have always understood the Kurdish people's ambitions"

Amr Moussa,
Arab League secretary-general

In London, the Sunday Telegraph published a poll that indicated that up to 65% of Iraqi citizens support attacks on US-led forces, and fewer than 1% think US-led military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

The US military announced that four soldiers had died on Friday in attacks, bringing the overall US toll since the invasion to 1996, according to Pentagon figures.

Iraqi unrest


US-led forces killed 20 people suspected of links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during military operations on suspected safe houses near the Syrian border, the US military said on Sunday.

A car bomb in a Baghdad square on Sunday killed four people in the first significant bombing in the capital in weeks.

 

A car bomb hit an Iraqi police
convoy in Baghdad

The bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into two police vehicles in downtown Tahrir Square at 11.30am, killing two police officers and two civilians.

 

US troops swept onto the scene in Humvees as a crowd of bystanders gathered around the smoking wreckage, tending to the 11 wounded.

 

Elsewhere, more than 20 Iraqis died in a swell of violence, including a bomb attack that hit the car of a police colonel, killing him and four children.

 

US convoys attacked

 

Roadside bombs hit three separate US convoys in Baghdad on Sunday morning, wounding a total of five soldiers, US Sergeant 1st Class David Abrams said.

 

A car bomber rammed into a US military convoy on Sunday morning in the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, killing two civilians and wounding 13.

 

A Kurdish mother tends her son
who was wounded by a bomb

Attacks also flared in north-central Iraq. The slaying of the police colonel and his children came in Tikrit, 129km north of Baghdad.

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Haitham Akram had just left his home and was getting into his car with his two sons when a nearby bomb went off, killing the three of them, said police Lieutenant Qusay Mushaal.

 

The explosion set a nearby car ablaze, killing two young girls, aged 7 and 9.

 

Drive-by shootings

 

Around the city of Baquba, east of Tikrit, a series of drive-by shootings killed a police lieutenant, three civilians and a Shia student-cleric.

 

Attackers also shot to death three Iraqi contractors driving a water truck to an Iraqi army base on a highway near Taji, north of Baghdad, said police Lieutenant Abd al-Razaq Al-Hayali.

 

In Baghdad, men opened fire on a car carrying Shia workers, killing one and wounding two others. Fighters also killed a leader of a Shia anti-Saddam group and his driver in their car on a highway outside the southern city of Amara, police said.