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. ...
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."
Al-Hashimi recently told CNN that he turned down an offer by President Bush to visit Washington until he can count more fully on U.S. help. He said he wants guarantees in the constitution that the country won't be split into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish federal states, which he says would disadvantage Sunnis.
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Posted by Forkum at May 8, 2007 03:12 PM