Iraqi president calls upon rebels to lay down arms

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called upon the armed rebel organizations in his country Monday morning to lay down their arms and join the political discourse. While in Cairo, he said he would be willing to meet with the rebels and with Ba'ath Party members, - who ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein - if they cease the armed battle. Al-Qaida in Iraq, headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi rejected the call, saying that the only conversation with the government in Baghdad will be conducted with blood and swords, Israel Radio reported. This came after reports were spread Sunday night of the alleged death of the al-Qaida in Iraq leader following a severe gunfight with American forces in Mosul. The US dismissed those reports as unreasonable and unreliable.