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Allawi to meet Iraqi exiles in Jordan

/ Source: The Associated Press

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi will travel Tuesday to Jordan to meet with Iraqis outside the country as part of a dialogue on the country’s future, an official in his office said.

Allawi was to appear later Tuesday before the Iraqi National Council, a government advisory body, where he was expected to answer questions about the meeting. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, would not identify the Iraqi groups who would take part in the meeting.

The meeting is seen as an effort to reach out to various Iraqi groups to encourage broad participation in the Jan. 30 election. Iraqi officials have insisted Allawi would not meet with “terrorists,” meaning insurgent leaders.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the National Council on Tuesday that the government recognized the need to “widen the scope of participation” in the election to those groups “that renounce violence and terrorism.”

Zebari said Allawi would meet with about 25 to 35 “personalities,” mostly from the Ramadi area of Anbar province.

“We still think that national reconciliation is necessary and vital but we also make a distinction,” Zebari said. “If there are people who are accused and are known for what they have committed...these people should be tried according to the laws.”