Correction to This Article
A Dec. 17 article quoted Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish leader in Iraq, as saying, ¿It¿s unfair, and it¿s caused a lot of problems, and for us, I think it¿s a huge obstacle to reconciliation.¿ Othman was referring to de-Baathification, which banned former members of Saddam Hussein¿s Baath Party from government jobs, and not to a proposal to reintegrate former Baathists. He said he supports the reintegration of former Baathists into government institutions as long as they did not commit crimes against Iraqis.
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A Call to Hussein-Era Soldiers

"It's unfair, and it's caused a lot of problems, and for us, I think it's a huge obstacle to reconciliation," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish leader who did not attend the conference.

Maliki said the government would distinguish between Baathists who had not committed crimes against civilians and those who had. "We must differentiate between the two types so that the first group would not be exposed to injustice, nor the second group escape due punishment," he said.

Maliki said the Iraqi government had reached an agreement with the U.S.-led coalition to speed up the transfer of more authority to Iraqi forces.

"The government is realizing the time has come to take over all the responsibility and the security of the country," he said.

Participants said they expected to discuss various issues such as disarming militias, reshuffling the cabinet and granting amnesties to insurgents.

Mithal Alousi, a member of a secular party, said he would support a limited amnesty for Iraqis who are willing to admit their crimes and participate in the political process.

"I have lost two sons. I know how painful the situation is," he said. "I would give amnesty to the people who have killed my sons."

Iraqi forces, with the help of U.S.-led forces, have stepped up their efforts to tamp down the violence in Baghdad. On Saturday, they arrested six people in Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold, while trying to capture the suspected leader of an armed group that has kidnapped and killed civilians and committed other crimes, the U.S. military said. An airstrike killed one suspect and wounded another, the military said.

The U.S. military also announced that three American soldiers were killed and one wounded north of Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles as they were clearing a road.


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