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Iraqi President: Main Sunni Bloc to Re-Join Cabinet

  • VOA News

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says the main Sunni political bloc will rejoin the Shi'ite-led ruling coalition after quitting the government last year.

Mr. Talabani said on Sunday that the Sunni bloc has put forward a list of candidates for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet. He made the comments after meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

While on an unannounced visit to Baghdad, Rice praised Iraq's Sunni Arab, Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders for working together in politics. Rice is holding talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi officials before heading to diplomatic meetings in Bahrain and Kuwait.

Earlier, the US military said violence in Baghdad's Sadr City district, a stronghold of the radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has increased over the past days.

A spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Strover said US troops killed 20 gunmen in what he called the "hottest night (most violent) in a couple of weeks."

Also, the military said Iraqi security forces killed 40 Shi'ite militants and arrested 40 others in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

On Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr threatened "open war" against the Iraqi government unless attacks against his supporters end.

Iraqi troops on Saturday seized control of a stronghold of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in the southern city of Basra.

Iraq's Prime Minister al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on armed groups in Basra last month.

In other violence Sunday, police said gunmen kidnapped at least four people, including two university students, on a highway north of Baquba in central Iraq.
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