Irbil: Leaders of Iraq`s main political blocs met on Monday in the northern city of Irbil in a rare face-to-face gathering that could signal progress in breaking the country`s political deadlock.
Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in northern Iraq, lobbied for the meeting to be held in his hometown Irbil. He opened Monday`s gathering with a call to Iraqi politicians to work together.
"It is a historic moment with deep meaning to meet together to discuss and agree on the country`s future and to develop it in a way that meets the ambitions of the Iraqi people," he said.
The meeting was a who`s who of the Iraqi political scene and the first time all the main political leaders have met publicly since the March 07 election.
Among the crowd in the Irbil conference hall on Monday were current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the man who would like to take his job, Ayad Allawi.
Allawi heads the Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition that won 91 seats in the Parliament to al-Maliki`s 89 seats. With neither side winning a majority in the 325-seat Parliament, an eight-month period of intense political negotiations followed the March polls.
The head of the Iranian-backed Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Ammar al-Hakim, as well as senior members of the anti-American Sadrist alliance were also in attendance.