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Two Rival Iraqi Kurd Leaders Seek Reconciliation


The leaders of the two main Kurdish factions in northern Iraq are expected to meet to signal the end of their long-running rivalries. The Kurdish leaders are expected to hammer out a joint strategy in the event of a U.S. led attack against Iraq.

Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the KDP, was expected to be in the city of Sulaiymaniyah, the stronghold of Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the PUK. Iraqi Kurdish officials say the meeting between their two leaders is largely symbolic.

Its main purpose they say is to demonstrate to the Iraqi Kurdish people that their leaders have put aside their rivalries once and for all.

The Kurdish leaders are, nonetheless, expected to take up substantive issues. These include a joint strategy in the face of a U.S. led attack against Iraq. The two men are also expected to discuss the contents of a draft constitution proposed by Mr. Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party.

The document calls for the establishment of a federal state for Iraq's 3.1 million Kurds within a unified Iraq.

The Kurdish regional parliament is to meet Friday, October 4 in the Kurdish controlled city of Arbil.

The parliament, which is made up of members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, as well as representatives of minority groups such as the Turcomens and Assyrian Christians, had ceased to function in 1994. Then a protracted power struggle erupted into war.

The fighting, which is estimated to have cost 4,000 lives, ended in 1998 after a U.S. mediated peace agreement.

The Iraqi Kurds' are showing a new spirit of cooperation as the Bush administration steps up its campaign to increase international support for military action to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi Kurds are expected to play an active role in such an operation. They have about 50,000 men under arms and control a large chunk of territory in northern Iraq.

But analysts say the Iraqi Kurds' support can be effective only if they are united, which is one of the reasons, they add, that the United States has been actively seeking to promote peace between them.

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