BAGHDAD, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Iraq on Thursday held a national reconciliation conference with the attendance of representatives of Sunni Arab insurgent groups who are willing to lay down their arms and join the political process.
"National reconciliation is open for all Iraqis in the armed groups who lifted their arms against the foreign forces," Amir al- Khuzaie, minister of state for national reconciliation affairs, told the conference held in Baghdad earlier in the day.
Many of the individuals from the armed groups in Iraq have joined the project of the national reconciliation, except those who joined al-Qaida organization which is accused of indiscriminate killings against Iraqis, as well as those who are members of the outlawed Saddam Hussien's Baath party, al-Khuzaie said.
"Al-Qaida has been internationally classified as a terrorist group, but the Baath party has been banned by the Iraqi constitution, therefore, Baathists can individually come back (to the political life) according to the law of the Accountability and Justice Commission," he said.
The commission is tasked with vetting people trying to get government jobs or take political office for ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party.
Khuzaie named some of the Sunni Arab armed groups which were represented in Thursday's conference, saying they were Hamas al- Iraq, Jaish al-Islami, Jaish al-Mujahdeen, Naqshabandiyah, Jaish al-Fateheen, Jaish al-Murabteen and others.
Khuzaie clarified that bringing the representatives of the armed groups was the fruit of hard work and meetings with them made by his ministry over the past three months.
"This is not the end of our task, but to this stage we have managed to bring those who laid down their arms from the provinces of Nineveh, Salahudin, Anbar, Diyala and other provinces," Zuhair al-Chalab, an Iraqi official in charge of integrating the fighters into the political process, told reporters.
The Iraqi official television of Iraqia quoted Brigadier General Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman of U.S. military in Iraq as saying that he welcomed the reconciliation steps by the Iraqi government and such efforts are substantial to help all Iraqis to join the government to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government has long been under pressure by the United States and other regional countries to work harder for national reconciliation, but his government's critics claim its efforts may lack serious commitment.
Meanwhile, Sunni Arabs remain embittered by their loss of power after the U.S.-led invasion and are reluctant to accept political dominance by the majority Shiites. The mainly Sunni insurgency also is fragmented, with dozens of groups operating independently making the task harder for the Iraqi government to hold talks with them.