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Former Iraqi Official Gets 7 Years for Expelling Kurds


Iraq's highest court has sentenced former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz to seven years in prison for expelling Kurds from northern Iraq during former dictator Saddam Hussein's rule.

The Iraqi High Tribunal handed down the sentence Sunday. Aziz was deputy prime minister when Iraq invaded Kuwait and during the 1991 Gulf War. He served as an international spokesman for the Iraqi government.

Also Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Iraq's Kurdish region to meet Kurdish politicians in an effort to resolve disputes over land and oil. Mr. Maliki met near the city of Sulaymaniyah with the Kurdish region's newly re-elected President Massoud Barzani and Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, who also is a Kurd.

After the meeting, Mr. Maliki said the two sides agreed to hold further talks on their differences.

The government of northern Iraq's Kurdistan region has been locked in a bitter feud with Baghdad over land and oil, particularly the disputed, multi-ethnic region of Kirkuk, which has vast oil reserves.

Last month, Kurdistan's regional President Barzani said he would "never compromise on Kirkuk." He wants a referendum to be held to determine whether the city will become part of the Kurdish region. That plan is outlined in Iraq's 2005 constitution.

Last March, Tariq Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity. He was convicted for his role in the execution of dozens of Baghdad traders in 1992.

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

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