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Iraqi PM Ready to Hold Talks With Some Insurgent Groups


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he is ready to hold talks with some insurgent groups prepared to join the political process - as he launched a major security crackdown in Baghdad.

Mr. Maliki said Wednesday he will not negotiate with people who have blood on their hands.

In Baghdad, some 50,000 Iraqi security forces and 7,200 U.S.-led coalition troops spread across the Iraqi capital in efforts to end sectarian violence and attacks by insurgents.

The troops - with tanks, armored units and air support - set up checkpoints throughout the city. Mr. Maliki also ordered extended curfews and a ban on vehicle traffic during Friday prayer hours - a time when insurgents have launched many attacks.

In Washington, the U.S. Defense Department Gen. Carter Ham says the Baghdad operation is being run by the Iraqis - and that's a hopeful sign.

In violence today, Iraqi police say a car bomb killed two people in Baghdad and wounded six others.

South of the capital, in Basra, a crowd set fire to part of the Iranian consulate. The demonstrators were mostly followers of a local Shi'ite cleric and were apparently upset about an Iranian television program that they felt insulted the cleric.

There were no reports of casualties.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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