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Iraqi Reconciliation

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is offering a plan to end the insurgency. It calls for granting amnesty to insurgents who renounce violence and having Iraqis take a larger role in providing security.

Mr. Maliki says, "To those who want to rebuild our country, we present an olive branch. And to those who insist on killing and terrorism, we present a fist with the power of law to protect our country and our people." But, says the Iraqi prime minister, "We realize that there is a legion of those who have tread the path of evil [who]. . . .will continue with their criminal acts."

According to news reports, several Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups have said they are ready to join in a national reconciliation effort. They include the al-Ashreen Brigades, operating in Anbar province, and the Mohammed Army, which is made up of former members of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath party. Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni member of the Iraqi parliament, says he "support[s] and agree[s] with this initiative and call[s] on all Iraqis to support it because it will be the first step toward security, stability and the building [of a] new Iraq."

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey says that national reconciliation in Iraq is an important goal:

"It is something that is a high priority as outlined by the prime minister and his government, and it is one that we support. And certainly, we expect that they [the Iraqi government] will look carefully as they develop their proposals." This has been entirely an Iraqi initiative, says Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. He says the United States is urging "the insurgents to lay down their arms and join the democratic process initiated by their fellow Iraqis."

Ambassador Khalilzad says Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki "has noted national reconciliation does not mean that all Iraqis must agree on how best to resolve the myriad challenges they face." However, Mr. Khalilzad says, "these disagreements must be expressed through dialogue rather than through violence."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.