AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – A senior Iraqi Shiite leader who is meeting U.S. President George W. Bush next week rejected a suggestion for an international conference on Iraq, saying Saturday that it is “illegal” and “unrealistic.”
Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who is due to have a White House meeting with Bush Monday to discuss ways to end the Sunni-Shiite violence raging in Iraq, also played down fears that his country is facing civil war.
Al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, categorized the conflict in Iraq as “political” rather than sectarian. He said he opposed sectarian killings, for which the SCIRI-affiliated Badr Brigade militia is partially blamed.
Annan said last week an international conference on Iraq could be useful if the groundwork was carefully prepared and all the political parties could be brought together somewhere outside Iraq.
Al-Hakim said Iraq’s problems need to be solved at home. “It is unreasonable or incorrect to discuss issues related to the Iraqi people at international conferences.
The proposal is unrealistic, incorrect and illegal,” he said at a news conference in Amman, Jordan. Arguing against the Annan proposal, he said only the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was qualified to find a solution for the conflict in Iraq since it was democratically elected. “Consequently, we find that the solution must be found within Iraq and not in conferences outside it,” said al-Hakim, whose party is a senior partner in al-Maliki’s ruling coalition.