AP: Hundreds of Iraqi tribal chiefs gave important support Saturday to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national reconciliation plan, while the government leader called the release of a leading Sunni Arab lawmaker by kidnappers a gift to his unity campaign. Al-Maliki won endorsement of his program for bridging religious, ethnic and political divisions at a national conference of tribal chiefs. A representative of the chiefs read their agreement on live television, calling it a "pact of honor."
Reuters: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged hundreds of tribal leaders gathered in Baghdad on Saturday to unite to end the bitter sectarian bloodshed between Sunnis and Shi'ites that has raised fears of civil war. "Iraq needs all of its sons during this stage. There is no difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites," he told the meeting, the first in a series to promote dialogue between the warring sects as part of his national reconciliation programme. "Yes, we differ in opinion and that's a healthy sign but we must hold dialogue to solve our problems," Maliki said. "The liberation of the nation from any foreign hand cannot be without national unity, the unity that our forefathers built during hundreds of years." [...]