The head of the Arab League warned against expecting breakthroughs at a conference Saturday aimed at reconciling Iraq's sharply divided ethnic and religious groups.
As leaders of the factions began arriving in Cairo on Friday, the effort met an early setback when Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite political party, said he will not attend the meeting sending a low-level deleagtion instead.
Shiites have been skeptical of the conference from the start and have strongly opposed participation by Sunni Arab officials from the regime of former leader Saddam Hussein or from pro-insurgency groups.
The Arab League, which is sponsoring the gathering, agreed to exclude those involved in atrocities against Iraqis but has declined to reveal the entire list of participants. Among those known to be invited are representatives of four key Sunni Arab political parties.