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Muqtada al-Sadr holds talks with Sunnis to ease tensions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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BAGHDAD, Iraq — Senior aides of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met a key Sunni group Sunday in a bid to soothe tensions that have flared and resulted in the deaths of 10 Shiite and Sunni clerics in the past two weeks.

&#34There is a wound that needs to be treated, and Muqtada was the first to offer his medicine,&#34 said Sheik Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi, spokesman for the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars after the talks with the al-Sadr delegation.

The association”s leader, Harith al-Dhari, last week pinned the killing of several Sunnis, including clerics, on the Badr Brigades, the military wing of Iraq”s largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Brigade general secretary Hadi al-Amri has denied the charge and accused the Sunni association of wanting to &#34push Iraq into a sectarian conflict.&#34

Al-Sadr said in a television interview that aired Sunday that the talks were aimed at settling the feud between the association and the Badr Bridges. He resurfaced recently after lying low following fierce battles between his supporters and U.S. forces last year in the southern holy city of Najaf and Baghdad”s impoverished Sadr City.

A senior Iraqi Trade Ministry official, Ali Moussa, and his driver were killed Sunday in an ongoing terror campaign that has killed more than 550 people in less than one month.

A suicide car bomber also blew himself up near a U.S. convoy and police station in Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, killing one American soldier and wounding two others along with two Iraqi policemen, the military said.

Also Sunday, a U.S. soldier was killed in a vehicle accident near Kirkuk, the military said.

Iraqi authorities also announced that Ghazi Hammud al-Obeidi, 65, one of the most-wanted officials from Saddam Hussein”s former regime, had been

released last month because he apparently is terminally ill with stomach cancer.

Also Sunday, three Romanian journalists and their Iraqi-American guide were released after being held captive for nearly two months. Iraqi insurgents had demanded Romania withdraw its soldiers from Iraq. Bucharest rejected the demand.