The Iraqi national conference (search), considered a key step in the country's efforts to move toward democracy, has been postponed for two weeks, a conference spokesman said Thursday, a day after a devastating car bomb north of Baghdad.

The delay in the conference — which had been scheduled to begin on Saturday — was aimed at giving more time to entice boycotting parties to participate, said Abdul Halim al-Ruhaimi, a conference organizer.

He denied that recent violence was a factor in the decision. "The security situation has nothing to do with the postponement," he said.

The United Nations (search) requested the delay, and the organizers agreed, provided the United Nations send a high-level representative to attend, he said.

The conference, in which 1,000 delegates are to participate, is to create a national assembly to work with the new government.

On Wednesday, a homicide car bomb exploded in the city of Baqouba, killing 70 Iraqis in one of the deadliest single bombings yet in Iraq.

Organizers have worried the conference itself would be a nearly irresistible target for terror groups and kept its location and security plans secret.