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Last Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
NI politicians help at Iraq talks
The minarets of the al-Askari shrine were damaged in a sectarian bombing in June.
The minarets of the al-Askari shrine were damaged in a sectarian bombing in June.
Senior Northern Ireland politicians have been attending talks in Finland in an attempt to bring to an end the sectarian violence crippling Iraq.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson have been involved in four days of discussions.

The seminar is being attended by about 30 representatives of Iraq's warring Shia and Sunni Arab factions.

They are learning how they might apply the experiences of NI and South Africa to try to end the violence.

Besides Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and the Lagan Valley MP, other local participants include the former Stormont Assembly Speaker, Lord Alderdice, and the loyalist Billy Hutchinson.

The former IRA hunger striker and Sinn Fein official Leo Green is taking part, as is the public relations consultant Quintin Oliver who masterminded the Yes campaign during the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement.

South African participants include the ANC leader Mac Maharaj and former South African government minister Roelf Meyer.

The seminar has been organised by the Crisis Management Initiative, an organisation headed by the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari who served as an independent inspector of IRA arms dumps.

Mr Ahtisaari is not himself attending the discussions. One source described the mood during the four days of discussions as guardedly positive.

N Ireland's Dep First Minister Martin McGuinness on Radio 4

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