The Iraqi government and aides of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were in initial talks by telephone Thursday in an attempt to to end the clashes in Basra, where Iraqi troops have been battling Shiite militiamen, a Sadr aide said.
Liqa ali-Yassin, a member Sadr's 32-member parliamentary bloc, said Liwa Sumaysim, head of Sadr's political bureau in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, spoke by telephone with Shiite MP Ali al-Adib from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party. "He (Adib) is in (telephone) talks with Liwa Sumaysim about easing the tension as part of government efforts to settle the crisis in Basra," Yassin told AFP.
The two were planning to hold face to face talks in Basra.
Since Tuesday, Maliki has been overseeing a military crackdown in bastions of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in Iraq's second city. The clashes spread to other Shiite areas, including in Baghdad, with scores of people killed in the past three days, according to Iraqi officials.