"We have to prove for everyone that the government is national and it is going forward with major steps to achieve security and to achieve its political program," al-Bolani told al-Iraqiyah television.

Al-Dhari is the top leader for Iraq's Sunni minority, and the move against him was certain to further inflame the sectarian killing that is ravaging Baghdad and central Iraq.

 

The call for al-Dhari's arrest came two days after Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, called him a hard-liner with "nothing to do but incite sectarian and ethnic sedition."

 

Al-Dhari is believed to be in Jordan.

 

In a television interview last week, al-Dhari mocked a government offer of reconciliation in return for abandoning the insurgency.