Iraq's parliament in bid to mediate end to crisis in S. Iraq

Parliament has set up a committee led by its Sunni Arab speaker to mediate an end to the deadly clashes in southern Iraq. Committee member Bassem Sharif of the Fadhila party says the decision was made during Friday's emergency session. An aide to Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Jabbar al-Mashhadani, says 78 lawmakers attended the session and there was no quorum. The house's largest Shi'ite bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, boycotted the session. Sharif says the committee wants a truce to be declared before it begins mediation with a visit to secure support from top Shi'ite clerics in Najaf. Former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari is thought to be behind the mediation bid.