Sunni Group Suspends Talks on New Government

A major Sunni Arab political party suspended talks with Shiites and Kurds over a new government until the national leadership apologizes for attacks on Sunni mosques in reprisal for the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, officials said Thursday.

Representatives of major parties were to meet with President Jalal Talabani to discuss the aftermath of Wednesday's unprecedented wave of sectarian violence following the destruction of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, whose golden dome was destroyed by bombs.

But two spokesmen for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the main Sunni Arab faction, said they would not attend and would freeze talks with Kurdish and Shiite parties pending an apology for reprisal attacks against more than 90 Sunni mosques throughout the country.

"We were waiting for a clear denunciation by the Shiite coalition regarding the criminal attacks on Sunni mosques and some offices belonging to the Iraqi Islamic party, but this did not happen," Rashid al-Azawi of the Iraqi Islamic party, which is part of the Accordance Front.

He accused the government of failing to protect to the Sunni mosques.

"It is illogical to negotiate with parties that are trying to damage the political process," Islamic party leader Tariq al-Hashimi said, citing the Mahdi Army militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Dr. Salman al-Jumaili, another Sunni politician, said the Sunnis are demanding an apology "for yesterday's conducted by Shiite militia" and "adequate measures against them."

"We want a clear condmenation from the government which didn't do enough yesterday to curb those angry mobs," he said. "There was even a kind of cooperation with the government security forces in some places in attacking the Sunni mosques."