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Iraqi Sunnis, Shi'ites Agree to Hold Peace Talks


Sixteen leaders from Iraq's rival Sunni and Shi'ite groups have agreed to open reconciliation talks and work for a lasting peace.

The Iraqis held four days of secret talks in Finland with diplomats who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland and South Africa. United Nations diplomat and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari organized the meeting.

Details of the talks were not disclosed to the media until Monday.

Participants said in a statement that the Iraqi officials agreed to start talks on sharing power and eliminating violence as a way to settle political differences.

The representatives also said they will work to end what they call international and regional interference in Iraq's internal affairs. They also said military action by foreign forces violates Iraqi human rights and must stop.

There has been no comment yet from the Iraqi government.

Northern Ireland lawmaker Jeffrey Donaldson said the agreement is similar to the power-sharing deal that brought peace to Northern Ireland after more than 30 years of violence between Catholics and Protestants.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

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