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Iraq reconciliation meet may be in June-presidency

Written by: Staff

BAGHDAD, May 9 (Reuters) A national reconciliation conference may be held in Baghdad in June in a bid to stem the violence gripping Iraq, a presidential spokesman today said.

''The Arab League secretary-general asked the president whether it would be OK for the national reconciliation conference to be held in June,'' Kamaran Qaradaghi said.

''There was an idea that it would be held around the 20th in Baghdad but that still isn't certain,'' he added.

A first such conference under the auspices of the Arab League was held in Cairo last November.

The following month, mainstream Sunni Arab minority leaders, as well as some rebel groups, encouraged Sunnis to vote in a parliamentary election for the first time.

Nuri al-Maliki, the Shi'ite prime minister-designate, has welcomed the idea of talks with insurgent groups and hopes he can rally Iraqis behind a new national unity government drawn from the new parliament, where Sunnis are fully represented.

Iraq came to the brink of all-out civil war after the February 22 bombing of a Shi'ite shrine that sparked a wave of sectarian killings and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Reuters OM DB2027

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