Muqtada al-Sadr has agreed to allow his supporters to rejoin the Iraqi government and end a three-week boycott protesting the prime minister’s meeting with President Bush, officials close to the radical Shiite cleric said Thursday.
Al-Sadr’s loyalists walked out of their positions in parliament and the Cabinet after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met Bush in Jordan three weeks ago.
Shiites from the Iraqi parliament’s largest bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, met Thursday in the holy city of Najaf to try and persuade him to rejoin the political process and rein in his fighters, who are blamed for much of Iraq’s sectarian violence.
They were in touch with al-Sadr’s aides, and would meet the cleric himself Friday or Saturday, aides to participants said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of talks.
“Within two days, the al-Sadr movement will return to the government and parliament,” said Abdul Karim al-Anizi, a prominent Shiite lawmaker from the Dawa faction.
Two figures in al-Sadr’s movement — an aide to the cleric and a member of Iraq’s parliament — also said the cleric had agreed to allow his followers to rejoin the government.
“We will rejoin the government and the parliament very soon,” the parliament member said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of ongoing meetings. “We got some guarantees during our meeting today.”