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Maliki says Iraq will call for Mideast conference

/ Source: The Associated Press

The prime minister said Tuesday he will call for a regional conference on ending Iraq’s rampant violence, with the government appearing to back down from previous opposition to handing neighboring nations a say in Iraqi affairs.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the government will send envoys to neighboring countries to exchange views and discuss their possible contributions to building security and stability in Iraq.

“After the political climate is cleared, we will call for the convening of a regional conference in which these countries that are keen on the stability and security of Iraq will participate.”

The statement came a day before the Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., is to release recommendations on changing U.S. strategy in Iraq. Those are expected to include a suggestion to engage Iraq’s neighboring nations, including U.S. adversaries Iran and Syria, in the search for an end to the violence in Iraq.