EU to Iraq gov't: Reach out to Sunni Muslims

The EU urged the Iraqi government Monday to step up national reconciliation efforts and called on Iraq's neighbors to support the country's daunting stabilization drive by attending a May 4 national reconciliation conference in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheik. The appeal to neighbors, officials said, was aimed especially at Iran - like Iraq, a majority Shiite nation _ that has signaled it may boycott the conference if five Iranian diplomats held by the US in Iraq are not released beforehand. The EU foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, said in a statement Iraq's neighbors "have a responsibility to support and promote the difficult process of national reconciliation and stabilization in Iraq." Sunni-led Arab governments are wary of Iraq's new Shiite leadership, fearing it fuels violence against Sunnis and accusing it of helping Iran extend its influence in the Middle East.