First Published: 2005-07-04

Iraq resistance groups ask for official talks with Washington

Islamic Army in Iraq, Army of the Mujahedeen appoint spokesman as US admit talks.


Middle East Online

Now, they have a face

DUBAI - A newly named spokesman for two Iraqi resistance groups on Monday asked the US congress to make an "official" offer for negotiations with Washington, according to an interview broadcast on Al-Jazeera television.

"We will accept nothing but an official initiative from the US Congress with a precise timetable and a binding decision. Let this be clear," Ibrahim Yusef al-Shammari said, speaking on behalf of the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Army of the Mujahedeen.

An unverified statement posted on the Internet in the name of the two resistance groups announced the appointment of Shammari as joint spokesman following Washington's admission it had held talks with resistance representatives.

Asked if secret negotiations had begun between the resistance and US authorities in Iraq in an attempt to negotiate an end to the insurgency, Shammari denied any dialogue with US forces but was less clear as to whether unofficial contacts had been made.

"I deny the existence of a dialogue... All initiatives on these negotiations will be done according to our political program... and no contact of this kind has taken place directly or indirectly with the Americans," he said to the Qatar-based channel.

"Negotiations are a part of our political program and they are not happening at the moment because of the situation on the ground... the United States doesn't want to negotiate but they want scorched-earth politics," he said.

Shammari said Washington was "embarrassed" by instability in Iraq and added: "What is being said in the media is nothing but deception... the (US President George W.) Bush administration says it is realistic and it wants to negotiate to arrive at a settlement, but it really wants to gain time."

The London-based Sunday Times newspaper reported late last month that US officials had held two rounds of talks with resistance leaders, including representatives of the Al-Qaeda-linked Army of Ansar al-Sunna.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that talks had been held but insisted they were nothing new and that Washington was playing a facilitating role on behalf of the Iraqi government.


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