Iraq’s top Shi’ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders have reached consensus on some key laws seen as vital to bring about national reconciliation. The agreement is the most significant political development in Iraq for months. It was immediately welcomed by the U.S. which hopes it will help reduce sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands. Iraq’s prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has lashed out at U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton who has called for him to be replaced for failing to reconcile warring sects: “It seems that Missus Hillary and Senator Carl Levin haven’t had the misfortune during their political lives of dealing with deep political disputes and problems Iraq has had to deal with. Therefore, when they make judgements, they make them from a position of ignorance of what national reconciliation requires.”
Iraqi officials say the leaders signed an agreement to ease restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party joining the civil service and the army.
The apparent breakthrough comes a few weeks before top officials in the Bush administration dealing with Iraq present a report that could have a major influence on future American policy in the war-torn country.