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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Iraqis in secret Finland talks
The site of a bomb attack in Baghdad
US troops inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad
Representatives from Iraq's Sunni and Shia groups attending secret talks in Finland have agreed a set of principles aimed at ending sectarian violence.

Politicians from Northern Ireland and South Africa also attended the four-day meeting, to share their experiences of bringing divided communities together.

The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, was one of the chairmen of the talks.

The event was organised by a conflict prevention group based in Finland.

The group, Crisis Management Initiative, released a statement late on Monday, saying the participants had "committed themselves to work towards a robust framework for a lasting settlement".

They all have a responsibility to work together to build peace
Martin McGuinness
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister

This includes an agreement that fighting in Iraq should end and that solutions to problems should be found through democracy and power-sharing, the statement said.

It added that participants had agreed to form an independent commission to supervise the disarmament of non-governmental armed groups.

The venue and names of the participants were kept secret to allow the meeting to take place in private.

Responsibility

However, the Associated Press reports that the delegates included representatives of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the largest Sunni Arab political group, Adnan al-Dulaimi, and Humam Hammoudi, the Shia chairman of the Iraqi parliament's foreign affairs committee.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, told the BBC that the Iraqi delegates were very interested to hear how power sharing was achieved in Northern Ireland and in South Africa.
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"We were speaking to people who recognise that they are all Iraqis, that they all have a responsibility to work together to build peace for the people they represent," he said.

Crisis Management Initiative is headed by the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, who helped end 30 years of conflict in Aceh, in Indonesia in 2005.

The Finnish broadcaster, YLE, reported that Mr Ahtisaari - who did not attend the meetings - said it was up to the Iraqis whether they wanted to continue the process.




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Northern Ireland's deputy first minister on the talks





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