'Royal' peacemaker for Kurds

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The Independent Online
THE pretender to the throne of Iraq is due to lead a peace mission to northern Iraq in a bid to mediate between the two peshmerga factions on the brink of a civil war there, writes Annika Savill.

Sharif Ali, a London-based cousin of King Faisal II who was shot in the 1958 Baghdad coup, told the Independent he would probably go to Kurdistan next week - his first visit to Iraq since he was two years old. He is due to meet the two rival leaders, Massoud Barzani of the Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - provided the latter agrees to return to Iraq from Syria for the talks.

Sharif Ali, 39, said he felt 'quite emotional' about his return, but, he added: 'I am going to a liberated area and on a peaceful mission.' A PUK spokesman said Sharif Ali - who launched his monarchist movement last year - was a suitable envoy as 'a wholly impartial figure'.