Iraqi factions meet for talks in Finland

Representatives from Iraq's main ethnic groups met in Finland on Saturday to study reconciliation processes in Northern Ireland and South Africa in a bid to find a framework for justice and human rights in Iraq, the meeting's hosts said.

Iraqi factions meet for talks in Finland
"Senior leaders from all the major ethnic groups are represented," a spokesman for the Finnish non-profit organisation Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), Mikko Autti said.

A total of 36 Iraqis were taking part in the seminar on "Divided Societies," in addition to representatives from South Africa and Northern Ireland, Autti said.

Neither the names of the participants nor the location or duration of the talks were revealed.

The closed-doors seminar is a follow-up to a first round of talks held in September 2007 in Helsinki, where delegates studied the peace processes in South Africa and Northern Ireland to see what lessons could be learned to end Iraq's inter-communal violence.

That four-day meeting concluded with the Helsinki I Agreement, a set of recommendations including the principles of inclusivity, power-sharing and a commitment to removing the use of violence as a means of resolving political differences.

The second round of talks began on Friday and were likely to continue at least through Sunday, another CMI spokesman, Quintin Oliver, said.

"All the participants are engaged in intense discussions with a considerable and detailed review of the Helsinki I Agreement and principles in light of the changed circumstances (being discussed in the second round)," he said.

"It is now likely that the discussions will continue into a third day," he said.

Both rounds of discussions were jointly organised by the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts, the Institute for Global Leaders at Tufts University in Massachusetts, and CMI.

CMI was created by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari in 2000. In 2005, the group mediated a peace accord between the Indonesian government and insurgents in the province of Aceh.

Last Mod: 28 Nisan 2008, 03:06
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