Sunday, February 20, 2005

U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents

Yahoo! News - Report: U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq (news - web sites)'s Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported on Sunday, citing Pentagon (news - web sites) and other sources.

The Bush administration has said it would not negotiate with Iraqi fighters and there is no authorized dialogue but the U.S. is having 'back-channel' communications with certain insurgents, unidentified Washington and Iraqi sources told the magazine.

The magazine cited a secret meeting between two members of the U.S. military and an Iraqi negotiator, a middle-aged former member of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime and the senior representative of what he called the nationalist insurgency.

A U.S. officer tried to get names of other insurgent leaders while the Iraqi complained the new Shi'ite-dominated government was being controlled by Iran, according to an account of the meeting provided by the Iraqi negotiator.

'We are ready to work with you,' the Iraqi negotiator said, according to Time.

Iraqi insurgent leaders not aligned with al Qaeda ally Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi told the magazine several nationalist groups composed of what the Pentagon calls 'former regime elements' have become open to negotiating.

The insurgents said their aim was to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis.

The White House had no immediate comment on the report."

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