US soldier killed as Iraq set to hold reconciliation conference
An American soldier was killed during combat operations in southwestern Baghdad on Saturday, the U.S. military said on Sunday. The soldier was declared dead in a military medical facility at about 3:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) as a result of fatal injuries suffered by the attack which occurred an hour earlier, a military statement said.
Meanwhile, Iraq will hold a two-day conference of all political groups starting on Tuesday to promote national unity and help defuse sectarian tensions, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Saturday. The conference, which starts just two days before the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion, will be organised by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to achieve "security, reconstruction and complete sovereignty," Dabbagh said.
"Different political leaders will be present and the conference will aim to activate the role of different groups in the political process for positive contribution and national reconciliation," he said in a statement, according to AFP. The gathering will be Maliki's second attempt to bring together members of Iraq's warring factions to resolve their differences.
Dabbagh said on Saturday that next week's meeting is an attempt to offer every group participation in the political process. "The government believes political participation is an equal right for every citizen and group, to allow them to contribute to a democratic regime and prevent any (single) party or group from controlling the process," he said.