President Jalal Talabani met with representatives of seven armed groups and is optimistic they may agree to lay down their weapons, his office said. It was the first time a senior Iraqi official has acknowledged talks with insurgents.
It was unclear whether the seven groups represented a substantial portion of the insurgency. Talabani also did not say whether the insurgents presented their own demands.
Last year Talabani offered to talk with insurgents but it was unclear if any took up the offer. US officials have acknowledged meeting Iraqis who had ties to Sunni Arab insurgents but not with representatives of those groups.
American diplomats have also cautioned that any such dialogue could take a long time to end the fighting because of divisions within insurgent ranks, which include Islamic extremists who show no sign of wanting to end their jihad against the Americans and their Iraqi partners.
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