Cheney Finds Iraqis in Agreement on Reconciliation Agenda
Iraq-USA, Politics, 5/15/2007
US Vice President Dick Cheney wrapped up a weeklong trip to the Middle East yesterday with a cautiously optimistic assessment of the Iraqi government's broad consensus on the challenges that it must overcome.
"The sessions with the Iraqis focused very much on the agenda they have before them, things they've got to get done with respect to reconciliation, enactment of an oil law, de-Baathification, whatever constitutional modifications they're going to undertake," Cheney told reporters on his way back to Washington. "And there seemed to be something of a consensus on the agenda. There's not agreement on all the issues, obviously, but there wasn't a lot of dispute with respect to the issues that needed to be addressed."
Cheney told the Iraqi leaders with whom he met that they must be aggressive in seeking solutions to these matters. He refused to predict what will happen, but said he detected a greater sense of urgency among Iraqi leaders than he has seen in previous visits.
The vice president said he finds the dialogue between Iraq's Shiite prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, particularly noteworthy. On the security front, he drew encouragement from the decline in death squad activity within Baghdad and the decision of Anbar province's Sunni tribal sheikhs to begin opposing al-Qaida's activities in that part of Iraq.
While in the region, Cheney also met with leaders in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan to discuss Iraq, Iran and the Middle East peace process. He dismissed the notion that any one issue takes precedence, saying that all of these concerns must be addressed simultaneously.
Cheney emphasized that the proposed ambassadorial discussions between the United States and Iran are focused strictly on the situation in Iraq "and what we believe is Iran's interference in the internal affairs of Iraq." He said Iran's nuclear program and its defiance of two unanimous UN Security Council resolutions remain separate from the discussions on Iraq.
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