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Daily Column
US Papers Sunday: Maliki: 'I Agree with Obama'
Iraqi PM likes idea of 16-month timeline; Largest Sunni bloc rejoins government
By CHRIS ALLBRITTON 07/20/2008 01:23 AM ET
There are two big stories concerning Iraq today: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's acceptance of Sen. Barack Obama's plan for the American military presence and the Sunni bloc's rejoining of the government.

Over there
The news of Maliki's musing that Obama's 16-month timeline is about right is generally buried in the stories about Obama in Afghanistan. Candace Rondeaux and Dan Balz of the Washington Post get the Maliki angle up high in their front-page story. Maliki apparently told Der Spiegel that he felt Obama's 16-month timeframe "would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes." A government spokesman later issued a statement, however, saying Maliki had been both misinterpreted and mistranslated, and that the magazine didn't accurately convey Maliki's view. The spokesman declined to elaborate on how his boss had been misquoted, however. Anyway, just that Maliki's comment is out there has gotta irk Sen. John McCain. Well, no, since he completely ignored that interview and continued his broadside against Obama as someone who doesn't take in the facts on he ground. Pot, meet kettle.

Carlotta Gall and Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times also get Maliki's comments high up in their story, too.

Meanwhile, in Iraq proper, the Post's Sudarsan Raghavan reports that the largest Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, has rejoined Iraq's government, sowing hope that reconciliation might stutter forward. The move came as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Baghdad. Accordance leaders said they rejoined because they saw Maliki's crackdown against Shi'ite militias as a good sign. Divisions remain and no one is really happy with the distribution of cabinet posts.

The Times's Campbell Robertson and Sabrina Tavernise have the story, too, and have more detail on the power struggles over the cabinet posts.

John F. Burns of the Times reports from London that a Shi'ite militia holding five British hostages have released a video claiming one of the detained Britons has killed himself. The report could not be confirmed, and hostages held in the past have been reported as dead only to be released alive later.

Home front
Karin Brulliard reports on a workshop that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan can attend to talk out their war experiences and feel less alienated from their return home.


Christian Science Monitor, USA Today and Wall Street Journal
No Sunday editions.


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