Arab League: Prep. meeting in Egypt next week

The preparatory meeting for a reconciliation conference among Iraq's Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish communities will be held in Egypt next week and members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party could attend, an Arab League official said Wednesday. "We have reached an agreement with all Iraqi political forces and communities to hold a preparatory meeting in Cairo on the 19th of this month," League envoy Ahmed bin Heli told reporters after meetings with Iraqi figures. His comments came a day after radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr set conditions for taking part in the reconciliation conference, saying Baath members should not be present and the meeting should be held in Iraq. The Arab League official said he was still in contact with al-Sadr to try to convince him to send a representative to the Cairo meeting. He said that elements of Saddam's regime will not take part in the conference but it could include members of the former leader's Baath Party.