The Iraqi Prime Minister has opened an historic international conference on the future of Iraq calling on other nations not to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs.
Nuri al-Maliki demanded that regional and international states must not use his country to settle scores with each other by supporting one or other sect, ethnic group or political party.
Around the table in Baghdad are ministers including those from Syria, Iran and America – a rare meeting at a time of growing tension over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East Programme at Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said, “There are a lot of people with a lot of objectives for this meeting. I think the US is probably more sceptical than anybody about what can be accomplished. There are others who think it is very important that everybody define their roles and that everybody have a role and this meeting is an important way to set that up.”
The conference comes shortly after comments by the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who said that a solution to the sectarian violence there would not come through military means alone. He said it must be accompanied by a political process.