Iraq Sunnis doubt new political deal will bring reconciliation

Sunni politicians applauded goals set down in an agreement hammered out by the country's top leaders under intense American pressure but expressed doubt that the US-backed prime minister would actually see them through. In a step toward implementing a deal reached on Sunday, US and Iraqi officials announced Monday that coalition forces would increase the number of detainees released during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins next month. However, the deal did not convince the main Sunni Arab political bloc to take back the government posts they abandoned this month over differences with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite. On Sunday, Maliki and four other senior leaders declared that they had reached a consensus on a number of issues, including freeing detainees held without charge, easing the ban on former Saddam Hussein supporters in government posts, regulating the oil industry and holding provincial elections.