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Aide to Iraqi prime minister resigns

He spoke to media of amnesty plans

BAGHDAD -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office yesterday accepted the resignation of an aide who had told a reporter that Maliki was considering a limited amnesty that probably would include guerrillas who had attacked US troops, the aide said.

The Maliki aide who resigned, Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi, stood by his account of amnesty considerations, reported yesterday by The Washington Post.

Kadhimi said Maliki had indicated the same position less directly in public.

``The prime minister himself has said that he is ready to give amnesty to the so-called resistance, provided they have not been involved in killing Iraqis," Kadhimi said yesterday.

Maliki's office issued a statement earlier yesterday saying, ``Mr. Adnan Kadhimi doesn't represent the Iraqi government in this issue, and Mr. Kadhimi is not an adviser or spokesman for the prime minister."

Kadhimi, who also worked as an aide to the previous prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said he had submitted his resignation earlier in the week. He was informed yesterday that it had been accepted, he said.

Another Maliki aide, asked whether the amnesty being considered by the government was likely to apply to those who had attacked US forces, said Maliki had been ``clear, saying those whose hands weren't stained with Iraqi blood" may be eligible for any amnesty.

That aide spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying Maliki had not authorized anyone to speak for him.

On the issue of clemency for those who had attacked US troops, Kadhimi was quoted in yesterday's Post as saying: ``That's an area where we can see a green line. There's some sort of preliminary understanding between us and" the US-led Multi-National Force-Iraq, ``that there is a patriotic feeling among the Iraqi youth and the belief that those attacks are legitimate acts of resistance and defending their homeland. These people will be pardoned definitely, I believe."

Maliki's broad statements about amnesty, at a news conference Wednesday in Baghdad, marked the first time a leader from Iraq's dominant Shi'ite religious parties had indicated openness to pardoning members of the Sunni insurgency.

The statement from Maliki's office yesterday also said: ``It is not true what some of the media outlets, including The Washington Post, have said about the willingness of the Iraqi government to talk with armed groups."

At Wednesday's news conference, Maliki said reconciliation could include an amnesty for those ``who weren't involved in the shedding of Iraqi blood. Also, it includes talks with the armed men who opposed the political process and now want to turn back to political activity."

Maliki's comments were in Arabic and televised.

Bombings yesterday in Baghdad and northern Iraq killed eight Iraqi policemen and soldiers as the capital remained under heavy security during daylight hours.

In the southern city of Karbala, US and Iraqi forces detained the leader of the provincial council, Aqeel al-Zubaidy, leading the council to suspend operations and sparking small-scale street protests, Iraqi officials said.

The US military, in a statement later, announced the arrest of a ``terrorist leader" it referred to as Sheik Aqeel.

``Aqeel commands a Karbala terrorist network and is wanted for assassinating Iraqi citizens and planning and ordering attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces," said the statement, which said Aqeel was responsible for the deaths of six soldiers from the US-led military force last year and a soldier and interpreter earlier this month.

Shi'ite militias are considered the main threat to security in southern Iraq, but it was not immediately clear whether the detained official belonged to one.

Shi'ite officials in Baghdad and Karbala, a city holy to Shi'ites, rushed to his defense. Karbala's governor called the arrest ``a dangerous precedent."

Also yesterday, the Iraqi government released a document it said was found before Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death during a raid on an insurgent safe house.

The document, which described the insurgency as ``gloomy" because of gains by Iraq's security forces, called on insurgents to foment strife among Shi'ites and between the United States and Iran.

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