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.


Iran’s Hassan Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay

Updated 48 min 3 sec ago

Iran’s Hassan Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation could be forced into skipping next week’s UN General Assembly because the United States has yet to issue them visas, state media said Wednesday.
Rouhani and his delegation had been scheduled to travel to New York for the annual UN gathering on Monday, but that was now looking unlikely given the lack of visas, state news agency IRNA said.
“If the visas aren’t issued in a few hours, this trip will probably be canceled,” IRNA reported.
The delegation includes Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, who the United States imposed sanctions against on July 31.
The foreign minister had been due to travel to New York on Friday morning, according to IRNA.
The absence of Rouhani would ruin France’s bid to arrange a meeting between him and US President Donald Trump as part of European efforts to de-escalate tensions between the arch-foes.
“Iran’s absence will show that in contrast with its commitments to the United Nations and international organizations within the framework of agreements, diplomacy has no value for the United States,” IRNA said.
“Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has not left the scene and it continues its active diplomacy, the US government must answer for its behavior,” it added.
The UN General Assembly debate is due to begin on Tuesday.
As the host government, the United States generally is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at UN headquarters.
But Iran and the United States have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions in its campaign of “maximum pressure.”
Iran responded by scaling back its commitments under the landmark accord, which gave it the promise of sanctions relief in return for limiting the scope of its nuclear program.