Sunday, January 01, 2006

A delegation from Iraq's main Sunni Arab group planned to meet with senior Kurdish officials Sunday as political factions ponder the options for forming a coalition government. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite Arab, also was traveling to Iraq's Kurdish region to meet with regional President Massoud Barzani, the head of one of the two main Kurdish political parties. It was unclear if a three-way meeting between al-Jaafari, Sunnis and Kurds would take place. The visit by a Sunni Arab delegation to Iraq's northern Kurdish region would be the first such trip since the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, whose results have been contested by Sunni groups and secular parties. The discussions come at a critical time for Iraq, with the United States placing high hopes on forming a broad-based coalition government that will provide the fledgling democracy with the stability and security it needs to allow American troops to begin returning home. [...]