Peace talks between Sunnis and Iraqi Shi'ites begin in Finland

Friday, August 31, 2007

Peace talks took place today in Finland between two rival Iraqi factions, the Sunnis and the Iraqi Shi'ites.

The seminar was organized by the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded by former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari. The CMI is focusing on trying to replicate the way peace deals were forged in South Africa and Northern Ireland, who both also have representatives at the meetings.

Although the CMI have refused to name exactly who is present at the meetings, or reveal the venue, Finnish broadcaster YLE reports that those present include Muqtada al-Sadr, Adnan al-Dulaimi, the leader of the largest Sunni Arabian political party in Iraq and Humam Hammoudi, Shiite chairman of the Iraqi Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

The talks, which are held in conjunction with the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies of the University of Massachusetts Boston, are expected to last two days. Finland itself will play no role. Ahtisaari himself could not be present because he was attending another peace meeting in Copanhagen, Denmark.