Insurgent groups may be offered amnesty in new peace deal for Iraq

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The Independent US

The Iraqi government could offer an amnesty to members of the insurgency, as part of an effort to bring about peace, as early as this weekend. Part of that peace plan will include a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops and a halt to US operations.

It was reported in The Times that a 28-point package for national reconciliation will offer members of the Sunni insurgency a role in the political process if they lay down their arms.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said last week the government was drawing up the proposals and would release details soon. Revealing that government officials had been in discussions with members of the insurgency he said there could be an amnesty for those "who weren't involved in the shedding of Iraqi blood". He added: "Also, it includes talks with the armed men who opposed the political process and now want to turn back to political activity."

The proposals are part of an effort to drive a wedge between al-Qai'da-linked foreign fighters and the Iraqi resistance. The Iraq government stressed that Sunni insurgent groups were ready to join the political process.

Just how soon the deal could see US troops leave Iraq is unclear. The US maintains it would leave if directly asked to by the Iraqi government but yesterday US vice president Dick Cheney made clear to CNN that there were no imminent plans.