A top Iraqi Shiite official said Thursday that the political crisis pitting Shiite officials against his country's largest Sunni-backed bloc must end.
But Ammar al-Hakim, a powerful cleric and leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, did not offer any change in the legal challenge that started the standoff: An arrest warrant that Iraq's Shiite-led government filed against the Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, on terrorism charges, sending him into virtual exile to the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq.
Al-Hashemi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc has responded by boycotting Iraq's parliament and Cabinet sessions, bringing government work to a standstill. Al-Hashemi denies charges of running death squads that targeted Shiite officials and refuses to return for trial in Baghdad.
"I want to invite Iraqiya to return to parliament and take its place in parliament," al-Hakim said during his visit to Turkey. "We say that we will examine their just demands and do whatever is necessary."
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