Sunni bloc ends talks about rejoining Iraq's government

From Reuters

Iraq's main Sunni Arab political bloc said today that it had suspended talks to rejoin the Shiite-led government after a disagreement with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki over a Cabinet post.

"We have suspended negotiations with the government and pulled out our candidates," said Salim Abdullah Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front. He said the decision was made after Maliki objected to one of the bloc's proposed candidates for a Cabinet position.

The Accordance Front pulled out of the national unity government in August, demanding the release of mainly Sunni Arab detainees in Iraq's jails and calling for a greater say in security matters.

Persuading the bloc to rejoin the government has been a main objective of U.S. policy in Iraq and is seen as a crucial step toward reconciling Iraq's warring factions. Sunni Arabs have little voice in a Cabinet dominated by Shiite Muslims and Kurds.

Jabouri said the Accordance Front had drawn up a list of candidates for six Cabinet posts to hand to the government for approval, but Maliki had refused to accept its nominee for the Planning Ministry.

The government has begun releasing Sunni prisoners under a new amnesty law, and Maliki won praise from Sunni Arabs after launching a crackdown on Shiite militias.

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