BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Shi‘ite and Sunni political leaders made a joint call for national unity on Tuesday after a closed-door meeting called after a week of sectarian violence that saw Sunni militants seize northern cities.
The leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi‘ite, and Sunni Usama al-Nujaifi, the last speaker of parliament which dissolved this month, stood apart and listened as Maliki’s predecessor Ibrahim al-Jafaari called for “defending the state and protecting its sovereignty and dignity.”
“No terrorist powers represent any sect or religion,” Jafaari said in the televised address, which included a broad promise of “reviewing the previous course”.
The leaders also called for avoiding sectarian grievances and forbade non-state actors from carrying weapons.
Nujaifi and Maliki did not speak to each other after the speech, and only a few of the politicians exchanged words before walking away. In a similar meeting a year ago, Nujaifi and Maliki were shown embracing.
At the height of sectarian violence in 2007, Iraqi political leaders issued a call for political unity which had little effect.
Reporting by Ned Parker; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall