WASHINGTON – U.S. military commanders are talking with Iraqi militants about cease-fires and other arrangements to try to stop the violence, the No. 2 American commander said Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said he has authorized commanders at all levels to reach out to militants, tribes, religious leaders and others in the country that has been gripped by violence from a range of fronts including insurgents, sectarian rivals and common criminals.
"We are talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces," Odierno told Pentagon reporters in a video conference from Baghdad.
"It's just the beginning, so we have a lot of work to do on this," he said. "But we have restructured ourselves to organize to work this issue."
Odierno said it augments reconciliation efforts by the Iraqi government.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other leaders are under increasing pressure from Washington to do more to achieve reconciliation among factions because, officials argue, no amount of military force can bring peace to the country without political peace.
Al-Maliki announced a national reconciliation proposal nearly a year ago that has made limited progress. It offered some amnesty to members of the Sunni-led insurgency and a change in a law that had removed senior members of deposed President Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from their jobs.