Iraq's top secular leaders have condemned sectarian violence and vowed national unity, in a new push aimed at ending four days of communal bloodshed that have raised fears of civil war.
The show of unity followed late night talks Saturday in Baghdad, attended by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, President Jalal Talabani and a host of Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish politicians.
Afterwards, Mr. Jaafari told reporters he believes Iraq is, in his words, "far away from civil war."
The prime minister also said the government will repair all religious sites damaged since the bombing that destroyed the Shi'ite Askariya shrine in Samarra on Wednesday. An estimated 200 people have been killed in reprisal attacks since then.
Police say bombings and gunfire killed at least 40 people Saturday, despite a daytime curfew in Baghdad and nearby provinces. Authorities say the curfew will be extended through Sunday.
Earlier Saturday, the White House said President Bush telephoned Iraq's top leaders and urged them to work together to calm the violence.
Separately, radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's representatives met in Baghdad with a key Sunni clerics' association. Later, both sides vowed to stop attacks on mosques.