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US Deputy Secretary of State Visits Baghdad


12 June 2007

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is in Baghdad on a previously unannounced visit to discuss progress toward political reconciliation in Iraq.

The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he discussed with Negroponte Tuesday, issues of national unification. The statement said they talked about development of national security forces, and proposed legislation aimed at equitably distributing Iraq's oil wealth.

In a separate development, an al-Qaida-linked group says it is holding 14 Iraqi soldiers and police. It has threatened to kill them unless the government releases Sunni Muslim prisoners.

The group also has demanded the handover of those responsible for the rape of a Sunni woman known as Sabreen Janabi.

And the U.S. military says soldiers seized a bomb-making factory in Baghdad with material capable of manufacturing 300 roadside bombs.

It also says troops captured 11 suspected terrorists Tuesday, including seven believed to have ties to senior al-Qaida in Iraq leaders.

Negroponte arrived in Baghdad one day after Britain's likely next prime minister, Finance Minister Gordon Brown, met with Mr. Maliki in the capital.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



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