BAGHDAD, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- More than 200 Iraqi politicians gathered in Baghdad on Saturday and started a new national conference aimed at curbing sectarian violence, while some Iraqi political leaders boycotted the meeting.
The conference begun with citing verses of the Islamic holy Koran and a statement from the Iraqi Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, which was read on behalf of him by his spokesman Kameran Qaradaghi, who said the president was in "poor health."
However, the meeting was boycotted by some Iraqi political groups, including the Sadr movement known for its anti-U.S. stance and the Iraqi National Dialogue Front.
"We support any conference that serve the interests of the Iraqi people, but not under the occupation," Nassar al-Rubaie, spokesman of Sadr movement, told Xinhua.
"We think this conference will be just like the previous failedmeetings, so we withdrew," said Nassar, whose bloc has 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament and is part of the governing Shiite Iraqi Alliance.
Salih al-Mutlak, head of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, which has 11 seats in the Iraqi 270-seat parliament, said "we think (Prime Minister Nuri) al-Maliki's government is not serious in the reconciliation efforts."
"The conference will only grant longer life for the government, the security forces of which are killing our people," said Mutlak, a secular Sunni.
The conference was aimed at bringing Iraqi political leaders under one roof to find a common vision to deal with difficulties facing rival communities, government spokesman had said.