Turkey to host talks for Iraqi sect leaders
ANKARA / BAGHDAD
Iraqi Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (L), seen with Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoğlu in a visit to Ankara last week. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZTurkey will host Shiite and Sunni religious leaders from Iraq in late February in a bid to promote dialogue amid growing political and sectarian tensions in the country.
As Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initiated the meeting, prominent religious figures of Iraq will gather in İstanbul. Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani accepted to send a representative to head the Shiite delegation. A second delegation will be composed of Sunni religious figures. Mehmet Görmez, Director General of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, will deliver a speech at the meeting, in which he will call on religious groups to take responsibility in order to avert violence in the country. The conference aims to build dialogue between Iraqi Shiite and Sunni groups, along with establishing a regional organization structure.
Bomb targets Iraq MP’s convoy
Meanwhile, a bomb targeted Iraqi MP Qais al-Shadhr’s convoy in Baghdad yesterday morning, wounding five nearby civilians, an interior ministry official said. Al-Shadhr, who was kicked out of the secular Iraqiya bloc along with five other MPs last month for refusing to boycott parliament, was not wounded in the blast, Agence France-Presse reported. Al-Shadhr and the other five have formed another bloc called Al-Wataniyun (The Nationalists). Iraqiya began a boycott of parliament in December to protest what it charged was PM Nouri al-Maliki’s centralization of power and ended this week.