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Diplomatic Offensive Hopes to Quell Iraq Violence


Violence continued to grip the Iraqi capital Tuesday, with at least two car bombs exploding outside a hospital morgue, killing four people and injuring many more. The latest attacks come as Iraq's president visits neighboring Iran and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki prepares for a summit with U.S. President Bush Wednesday to try to find a way out of the spiraling chaos. VOA's Margaret Besheer has more from northern Iraq.

Police say the victims in Tuesday's car bombings had come to the Yarmouk hospital morgue to collect their dead relatives when they fell to the latest round of sectarian attacks.

Outside Baghdad there was violence as well.

To the north, in Kirkuk, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the convoy of the provincial governor. The governor and his bodyguards were unharmed, but more than a dozen passers-by were injured.

In the volatile al-Anbar province, the U.S. military reported a Marine was killed Monday. In that same region, troops continued to search for a missing American pilot whose plane crashed there Monday.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts continued in a bid to bring the violence under control.

President Jalal Talabani was in Iran for a second day, seeking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's help in fighting terrorism and restoring security and stability. Iran is believed to be aiding Shi'ite militias that are responsible for much of the sectarian violence. During their meeting, the two signed a number of agreements, including an oil deal that will see some Iraqi crude oil refined in Iran and then shipped back for winter needs in Iraq.

Wednesday, Prime Minister Maliki is scheduled to fly to Jordan to meet with President Bush to discuss the crisis, which was escalated by a series of bombings that killed more than 200 Shiites last Thursday.

In other news, the trial of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein continued inside Baghdad's heavily protected Green Zone.

Saddam and six former Iraqi Army officers are on trial for the murders of as many as 180,000 Kurds during a military campaign in the late 1980s known as al-Anfal.

An American forensic anthropologist, Clyde Snow, testified about a mass grave he uncovered in northern Iraqs Kurdistan region in 1992 that contained the bones of 27 Kurds.

"I saw that the bones were in excellent condition after four years," he said. "There was some clothing, and on some of the bones we could see some evidence of violence consistent with gunshot wounds."

Several experts are scheduled to testify this week, presenting documents and other evidence.

In an outburst during the proceeding, Saddam argued that the grave was not authentic, saying Iraq is full of skeletons dating back thousands of years. He suggested if the court gave him 10 days he could fabricate a mass grave with the bones of 400 Kurds and Arabs dug up from many different places.

If found guilty, Saddam and his co-defendants face the death penalty. Saddam has already been sentenced to hang in an earlier trial, for ordering the executions of 148 Shi'ite men in the town of Dujail in 1982.

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