Visiting Arab League chief praises Iraq's progress
The Associated Press
Published: March 17, 2009
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government is on the right track in its efforts to promote national reconciliation, the head of the Arab League said Tuesday, on his first visit to Iraq in more than three years.
The organization's secretary-general, Amr Moussa, said the government's policies have led to more stability.
"I feel that there is a big difference in the country," Moussa said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "Hope has emerged for a prosperous future."
Moussa arrived in Iraq on Monday for his first visit since Oct. 2005. At the time, an Arab League convoy doing advance work for the visit was hit by gunfire but nobody was hurt.
Mostly Sunni Arab nations have begun to engage the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, after shunning it for years to avoid implying approval of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Iraqi leaders have also long resented the 22-nation Arab League's perceived inaction toward Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime and its alleged bias in favor of Iraq's Sunni minority.
The Arab League opened a Baghdad mission in 2006 and named a new envoy to Iraq last July.
"Iraq is an Arab state with a big role and this role should be resumed soon," Moussa said.
Al-Maliki reiterated his call for more Arab countries to send ambassadors to Iraq and he said Iraq welcomes bids from Arab companies to participate in the reconstruction of his wartorn country.
"Iraq is recovering and turning back again to the Arab world," he said. "It is ready to be a partner in all missions and commitments based on that."