Iraqi peace talks to begin in Finland within days

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Talks aimed at negotiating peace between Iraqi Shi'ites and Sunni Muslims, the two largest population groups in Iraq, are set to take place in Finland within the next few days.

The Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) and the Finnish Foreign Ministry have both confirmed reports that the pre-arranged talks are scheduled to begin soon in an undisclosed location in Finland. The CMI, a non-governmental organisation founded by former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, has organised the talks, which are said to include key politicians, including representatives of major political parties.

Although the CMI will host the talks, Finland will take no direct role in the discussions. Martti Ahtisaari specifically will not take part, either.

All of those to take part in the mediations are still to arrive in Finland, including mediators from Northern Ireland and South Africa, who have already negotiated successful peace deals in their own countries.

The CMI has already succeeded once in helping two rival factions come to a peace deal. In 2005, the organisation arranged successful talks between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement.

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