09/28/2007, 00.00
IRAQ
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Sunni vice-president meets al-Sistani seeking national reconciliation

Top Shia religious leader backs Hashemi’s initiative. Talks take place a day after both appealed to overcome divisions.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iraqi vice-president and Sunni leader Tariq al-Hashemi and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani held talks for the first time a day after each separately released a statement in favour of reconciliation in Iraq. After the meeting Mr Hashemi said he had received the cleric's support for his proposals.

On Wednesday, the Shia religious leader had called upon Iraqis to brush aside their division.

“Your nation is rich and full of resources,” said the statement released by al-Sistani’s office “I appeal to you to brush aside divisions with your Sunni brothers”.  

“Be like a great mountain against attempts by some media to attack our unity, exaggerating the number of victims and talking about a confessional war,” it further said.

“The time has come to sit around the table and have a candid dialogue about key and sensitive matters,” Mr Hashemi said in his appeal.

The vice president is a member of the Sunni alliance which withdrew from the Shia-led government in protest at the lack of progress on reconciliation.

On Wednesday, he launched what he called an Iraqi National Compact which appeals to Iraqis who took up arms against the government and the US-led coalition to laid down their weapons in exchange for amnesty and the right to participate in the political process.

 

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