Iraq holds preparatory national reconciliation meeting

OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen speaking at the meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday. (AN photo)
Updated 12 December 2017
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Iraq holds preparatory national reconciliation meeting

JEDDAH: Iraq held a two-day meeting of the country’s elites in preparation for a national reconciliation conference.
Co-organized by the Foreign Ministry, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Iraqi Reconciliation Committee, the meeting — which ended Tuesday — constitutes a first concrete step toward entrenching national reconciliation.
Congratulating Iraq on its decisive victory over Daesh, OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen said the country is ushering in a new phase in the path toward national reconciliation, enhanced security and stability, and reconstruction of liberated provinces.
Due attention should be given to accelerating displaced persons’ return to their towns and villages, he added.
The OIC “believes that the solution to the Iraqi crisis must be decided by Iraqis themselves, free from any external interference, which involves making concessions,” Al-Othaimeen said, adding that when rooted in equal individual rights, citizenship is a key part of the solution.
Iraqis should make their sectarian, linguistic, cultural and regional diversity a source of harmony and strength, not discord and weakness, he said.
The OIC remains at an equal distance from all parties and blocs in Iraq, seeking the wider interests of the country and its people, he added.
Everyone looks forward to the day when there will be full, lasting national reconciliation in Iraq, Al-Othaimeen said, adding that the country remains central to the stability of the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari stressed the key role played by the OIC and its secretary-general in the national reconciliation process. There are good signs that national reconciliation is underway, Al-Jaafari said.


Yemen groups agree to reopen Sanaa airport, still in talks on port at Sweden talks

Updated 50 min 32 sec ago
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Yemen groups agree to reopen Sanaa airport, still in talks on port at Sweden talks

  • Askar Zaeel, a member of the government delegation, said his camp would hold firm to UN Security Council Resolution 2216
  • Multiple draft proposals have been submitted to the two delegations over the past week

RIMBO, Sweden: Yemen's warring parties agreed on Wednesday to reopen Sanaa airport in the Houthi-held capital, sources said, as Western nations press the two sides to agree on confidence-building measures before the end of the first UN-led peace talks in two years.
The Iranian-backed Houthi movement and the Arab coalition-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi were still discussing a UN proposal on the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to attend final talks in Sweden on Thursday to support his envoy's efforts to launch a political process to end the nearly four-year-old war. Another round of talks could be held in early 2019.
The Houthi militia hold most population centres, including Hodeidah and the capital Sanaa from which it ousted Hadi's government in 2014. The government is now based in the southern port of Aden.
The two parties agreed that international flights would stop at a government-held airport for inspections before flying in or out of Sanaa, two sources familiar with the talks said.
They have yet to agree on whether those inspections would be in Aden airport or that of Sayun, the sources added.
The Arab coalition intervened in the war in 2015 to restore Hadi's government controls the air space.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths, trying to avert a full-scale assault on Hodeidah, where coalition forces have massed on the outskirts, is asking both sides to withdraw from the city.
His proposal envisions an interim entity being formed to run the city and port and international monitors being deployed.
Asked if the government could accept that proposal, culture minister Marwan Dammaj said: "We are still discussing it."
Both sides have agreed to a UN role in the port, the entry point for most of Yemen's commercial imports and vital aid, but differ on who should run the city. The Houthi militia want Hodeidah declared a neutral zone, while Hadi's government believes the city should fall under its control as a matter of sovereignty.
"The devil is in the details - withdraw how far (from Hodeidah), the sequence, who governs and delivers services," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
They have also yet to agree on shoring up the central bank, and on a transitional governing body, although a deal was struck on a prisoner swap that could see 15,000 prisoners released.