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Sun 27 Apr 2008 10:29 AM

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Iraqi PM lays down conditions for peace with Al-Sadr

Nuri Al-Maliki calls for militia to hand in weapons and not to interfer with authorities.

Iraqi PM lays down conditions for peace with Al-Sadr
PEACE CONDITIONS: Al-Maliki, pictured, stipulated four conditions to stop his governments military onslaught against the Mahdi Army militia. (AFP)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki stipulated four conditions to stop his government's military onslaught against the Shi'ite Mahdi Army militia, in an interview with Al-Arabiya television aired Saturday.

"We have four demands, not more, that all those carrying arms - not just the Mahdi Army - should adhere to," Al-Maliki told the Dubai-based news channel referring to the militia led by the radical cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr.

"Handing in all heavy and medium weapons, and not interfering in the work of governmental departments," Al-Maliki said spelling out his first two conditions, in excerpts of the interview.

"Never interfere in the tasks of the police and army, so that police and army would operate everywhere - in Sadr City, Basra and Mosul - without any objections," he added.

Al-Maliki also demanded the "handing in of the wanted".

On March 25 Iraqi forces launched an assault in the southern city of Basra which initially faced fierce resistance from Shi'ite militiamen, mostly from Sadr's Mahdi Army.

In the first few days of the operation at least 700 people were killed in the port city, according to the UN.

The firefights in Basra triggered clashes in other Shi'ite regions of Iraq, particularly in Baghdad's Sadr City, the cleric's base in the capital.

At least 391 people have been killed since March 25 in the violence in Sadr City where clashes are still continuing.

The US military said Saturday that Iraqi forces took control of the last militia stronghold of the Mahdi Army in Basra.

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