Saturday, 10 Mar, 2007 Politics
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Iraq Asks for Help to Stop Violence

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Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, at a regional conference in Baghdad asked Iraq's neighbors for help. He opened the conference with an address to back his efforts to stop violence in Iraq by refusing to finance attacks. Mr. Nouri al-Maliki mentioned that people who cross the country's boarder to participate in attacks whether as suicide bombers or militia members represent danger for the country and they must be stopped.

His address at the conference was heard by the representatives of 13 nations and three international groups. Besides Iraq's neighbors, there were five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, United Nations, the Organization of Islamic States, the Arab League, as well as Bahrain and Egypt.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said that in order to confront terrorism countries should cease any form of media support or financial aid, as well as provision of both arms and men. Thus these actions will help stop the killing of Iraqi children and women, as well as stop bombing churches and mosques.

Although the Green Zone, where the conference was held, was heavily fortified and the nearby streets that lead to the Foreign Ministry were shut down, two mortar rounds landed nearby. No one was injured; however, the mortars somehow reminded that the government of the country is under siege.

The countries that were mostly concerned with Prime Minster's speech were the United States, Iran and Syria. Bush administration criticized Iraq's neighbors, stating that they were the main cause of worsening the situation in Iraq. The United States focused its attention mainly on Iran, accusing the country of providing Iraqi militants with explosives that were used in roadside bombings.

At the conference both Iran and U.S. had large delegations but the two countries did not split off for direct conversations.

The meeting had at least the goal of avoiding deepening the tensions among the participants at the conference. Another important aim of the meeting was to vote for Iraq's freedom from its neighbors.

The main problems that the country faces include Sunni worries over the continuous increase in Shiite strength in both Iraq and Iran, as well as the international investigation on the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon. One of the main concerns still remains Iran's nuclear program.

Despite the fact that there were no one-on-one conversations between U.S. and Iran regarding the use of EFPs (powerful bombs), that are considered by the U.S. officials to be made in Iran and afterwards exported to militants in Iraq, the problem of foreign arms was nevertheless discussed. The EFPs were amongst the most deadly to be used against American troops.

Due to the fact that the meeting was closed there was no possibility to see the reaction of the participants at the conference to the mortar.

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