Rice holds talks with Kurdish leader as more victims reported in Baghdad
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed Friday for cooperation from the autonomous and oil rich Kurdish north. Rice visited the region's powerful president, Massoud Barzani, less than two weeks after the regional government threatened to break away from Iraq in a dispute over oil.
After the talks, Barzani said Kurdistan, "like any other nation, has the right to self-determination." However, he said he is committed to a "federal democratic and pluralistic Iraq."
For her part, Rice thanked Barzani for the Kurds long cooperation with the United States, adding, "and I appreciate also your important participation in the process of national reconciliation. Thank you."
When he was asked about the future distribution of oil wealth, Barzani did not repeat recent assertions that Kurdistan alone should control new contracts and business arrangements for oil pumped in the region.
Meanwhile, a Kurdish lawmaker was kidnapped in Baghdad and later found dead, a spokesman for the Kurdish bloc in parliament said Friday. Mohammed Rihda Mahmoud was abducted with his driver Thursday afternoon in the northeastern Baghdad neighborhood of Seleikh, said Firyad Rawndouzi, spokesman for the Kurdish bloc. Hours later, both bodies were found shot in the head and chest, Rawndouzi said.
Mahmoud's Jamat Islamia has four seats of the Kurdish bloc's 53 in parliament, the AP reported.
Also Friday, a bomb attack killed one person and injured four others in northeastern Baghdad. Among those injured in the blast were two firefighters who had rushed to the scene of another bombing 10 minutes earlier, police Lt. Bilal Ali said.
In a predominantly Shiite part of eastern Baghdad, police found the bodies of five men in their 30s. All five had been shot, had their hands and feet bound and showed signs of torture, police Maj. Maher Mousa said.
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