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Al-Maliki Urges Iraqis to Turn New Page


As ethnic and sectarian violence continues to shake Iraq's capital, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for all Iraqis to unite. The Prime minister made the appeal during a visit to the Kurdistan National Assembly in northern Iraq.

Nouri al-Maliki paid his first visit as Iraq's prime minister to Kurdistan's National Assembly.

In his remarks to legislators, he did not refer to specific attacks against civilians that have rocked Baghdad during the past weeks. Instead, he appealed to all Iraqis to turn the page to a brighter future.

"It is the destiny of Iraqis to work together to stop the terrorists," he said, "adding they have no choice, but to fight those who try to bring darkness back to Iraq.

Mr. Maliki said Iraq must move quickly to rebuild its security, so that control of all the country's towns and cities can be transferred from coalition troops to Iraqi forces.

Speaking about the recently formed national unity government, Mr. Maliki said it must not differentiate among any part of Iraq, be it the Kurdish region, central Iraq or the south. He said the government must work equally for all Iraqis to live in peace.

But despite his calls for peace and unity, there was no let-up in sectarian attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere. In the mainly Shi'ite Sadr City section of the capital, two explosions killed at least 10 people. In the ethnically divided northern city of Kirkuk, police say a vehicle packed with explosives struck a Kurdish political office, killing at least three people.

In other developments, Saddam Hussein's defense lawyers began closing arguments Monday. Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for the 1982 murders of 148 Shi'ite men from the town of Dujail, following a failed assassination attempt against the former dictator.