IRAQI PRESIDENT SUPPORTS SOFT PARTITION OF IRAQ

October 10, 2007

fROM THE SITE OF THE BABYLONIANS (Which is the go-to site for info re: How to clean up the Iraq mess.)

Talabani Supports Proposal to Divide Iraq Into Three Regions

By Catherine Larkin

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani endorsed a plan gaining support in the U.S. Congress to divide Iraq along ethnic lines into three separate regions under a limited central government.

Talabani, a Kurd, said a so-called soft partition of Iraq would prevent civil war among the country’s Shiite and Sunni Muslims and Kurds.

The U.S. Senate voted 75-23 in favor of a non-binding resolution supporting establishment of such a federal system in Iraq. The idea has been championed by Democratic Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware and the resolution, approved Sept. 26, was co- sponsored by Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. Both lawmakers are seeking the presidential nomination of their parties.

“I think the resolution passed by the Senate is a very good one,” Talabani said today on CNN’s “Late Edition” program. “It is insisting on the unity of Iraq, of the security of Iraq, of the prosperity of Iraq, of national reconciliation and asking our neighbors not to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq.”

The plan calls for the central government to handle national security and distribution of the country’s oil revenue among the three regions. The Iraqi government has been struggling to pass a national law governing how such distributions will be done.

The Bush administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, have expressed opposition to any move to split up the country. Regional officials in Kurdistan have been criticized by the current Iraqi government for signing independent agreements with companies for oil exploration and production.

Talabani was in Washington last week for a meeting with President George W. Bush and members of Congress. The Iraqi leader also said he expected that the country’s army will be able to take over enough security duty so that the U.S. may be able to withdraw more than 100,000 of its troops “by the end of next year.” The U.S. currently has about 165,000 troops in Iraq.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Larkin in Washington at clarkin4@bloomberg.net

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