Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Al-Hashimi, Maliki meeting eases tensions

(CNN) - A meeting Tuesday between Iraq's Shiite prime minister and the country's top Sunni official appeared to ease tensions over threats that the entire Sunni bloc could pull out of the government. "The meeting was necessary to melt the ice that was accumulated over the brotherhood between me and my brother, the prime minister," said Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, after meeting with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Al-Hashimi previously told CNN if key amendments to the Iraq Constitution are not made by May 15, he will step down and pull his 44 Sunni politicians out of the 275-member Iraqi parliament.
Al-Hashimi's cooperation with the Shiite-led government is considered essential if there is to be a realistic chance of bridging the Shiite-Sunni divide in Iraq -- one of the key goals of the Bush administration.
The rhetoric the two imparted to reporters about the meeting included imagery of brotherhood, words that belied recent Sunni frustration over issues such as constitutional reform and the failure to be consulted by the government on security matters.
Fostering support among Sunnis is a major effort for the government, which held power in Iraq throughout the Saddam Hussein era. Many of the insurgents in the country -- which has a Shiite majority -- are Sunni militants and supporters of Hussein's Baathist party.
Al-Maliki said the pair reviewed security and political issues.
"Our brother, Mr. Vice-President, is one of makers of the political reality in Iraq," al-Maliki said. "Our meeting was blessed and good in discussing and reviewing the cases of mutual importance and responsibility within the frame of the program which was approved by the political partnership to be used in running the country and facing the crises."
He said he didn't hear of any intention to leave the government from his "brother."
"We don't have guarantees between us, but there is a process of reviewing to put back everything to the right track," al-Maliki said. "Guarantees without being on the right track are worthless." Al-Hashimi, meanwhile, said the meeting was frank but "encouraging and productive" and "that we are able to build a promising future based on the real partnership and mutual trust, which is very important to make the political project going on toward the good."

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