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Iraq's Sadr Bloc Ends Boycott of Parliament


The Iraqi political bloc loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says it has ended a boycott of parliament.

The group said its 30 lawmakers are returning because parliament has accepted demands to better protect Muslim shrines. The month-long boycott began as a protest of the bombing of a revered Shi'ite mosque in Samarra.

Also Tuesday, U.S. and Iranian officials confirmed the two countries are ready to hold a second round of direct talks on stabilizing Iraq.

A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said U.S. officials want another meeting to confront Iran over its behavior in Iraq.

No date for the talks has been set. The two countries last discussed Iraq in May.

In Baghdad Tuesday, a car bomb blast near the Iranian Embassy and a suicide bomb attack near an army patrol killed 14 people.

In northern Diyala province, police say gunmen killed 29 people Monday night.

In western Anbar province, U.S. commanders said more than 9,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops have begun an operation in less-traveled areas of the troubled province.

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