Iraq PM: Factions to rejoin cabinet

Statement from Nuri al-Maliki's office says sects have put aside their differences.

    Miliband, left, the British foreign secretary, held
    talks with al-Maliki in Baghdad [AFP]

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    The government has frequently said it is close to persuading the Sunni Arab Accordance Front, Iraq's main Sunni bloc, to return in what would be a major breakthrough towards reconciling Iraq's different sects.
     
    Salim al-Jubouri, a spokesman for the Accordance Front, said the group intended to submit a list of candidates for cabinet posts "in a few days", which the cabinet could then present to parliament.
     
    "Our return to the government is very close," he said.
     
    Reconciliation
     
    The Accordance Front, along with followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader, and some smaller groups walked out of al-Maliki's national unity government last year.
     
    The Accordance Front has so far said it was waiting for prisoners to be freed under a new amnesty law and for Sunni Arabs to be given more say in security policy.
     
    But it signalled its support for al-Maliki's policy by backing a crackdown the prime minister ordered against Shia fighters, mostly from al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army, last month.
     
    While the statement from al-Maliki's office said all groups would return, analysts say it is unlikely al-Sadr's movement would agree to rejoin.
     
    Al-Sadr pulled his six ministers from the government a year ago after al-Maliki refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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