Insurgents Ready To Talk In Iraq?

Caption Iraqi President Jalal Talabani speaks during a press conference in Dukan, northern Iraq, Friday Sept. 30 2005. Talabani said he believes that the majority of Iraqi people, including some Arab Sunnis will vote in favor of Iraq's new constitution in the Oct. 15 referrendum.(AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed) AP

The security adviser to Iraq's president says he was called by a man claiming to be an insurgent and wanting to talk with the government.

President Jalal Talabani said in Egypt two days ago that he would talk with anti-government fighters and members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

Talabani's adviser tells Al-Jazeera T-V that discussions don't mean demands are accepted.

Talabani says he will talk with insurgents and "criminals," but only if they put down their weapons.

Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders called for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.

The communique — finalized by Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni leaders Monday — condemned terrorism but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.

The leaders agreed on "calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation" and end terror attacks.

Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr suggested U.S.-led forces should be able to leave Iraq by the end of next year, saying the one-year extension of the mandate for the multinational force in Iraq by the U.N. Security Council this month could be the last.

"By the middle of next year we will be 75 percent done in building our forces and by the end of next year it will be fully ready," he told the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

CBS News Military Analyst and Retired Army Col. General Jeffrey McCausland says a timetable will have to be established eventually so the United States can provide legitimacy to the Iraqi government.

"While at the same time," he says, "[the United States can] continue to say while certain dates might be established, they would still have contingent upon that progress politically, improvements in Iraqi security forces, now over 200,000, and a military force of the United States could be moved out initially to Kuwait where they would still be readily available if things got difficult back in Iraq."

Debate in Washington over when to bring troops home turned bitter last week after decorated Vietnam War vet Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and estimated a pullout could be complete within six months. Republicans rejected Murtha's position.

In related developments:

  • At least 17 people are dead after a suicide car bomb attack today on an Authorities say attackers lured the patrol to a busy street by shooting a policeman. When the patrol arrived, a suicide car bomber hit. It's not clear how many of the victims were civilians.

  • The U.S. military is reporting three additional American deaths. It says a U.S. soldier assigned to the Second Marine Division was killed yesterday by a bomb near Habaniyah. And two soldiers from Task Force Freedom were killed Saturday by small arms fire in Mosul.

  • A top U.S. military official is adding his voice to those who say terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is alive. The U.S. commander in Iraq says there's "absolutely no reason" to believe the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq died in a weekend raid in Mosul. Lieutenant General John Vines, chief of the Multi-National Corps Iraq, also confirms that U.S. Officials have the ability to determine if al-Zarqawi was there.

  • DNA tests are being done on eight rebel fighters who died last weekend in a raid in Mosul to determine if one of the men might be the leader of the terror group al Qaeda in Iraq. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq says he doubts the dead include Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the country's most feared terror leader. "Unfortunately," said Zalmay Khalilzad, "we did not get him in Mosul."

  • The excitement was supposed to be purely symbolic, but that's not how it turned out in Tikrit Tuesday, as rebels disrupted a ceremony in which U.S. forces handed over a former presidential palace to local Iraqi officials – after occupying it for over three years. CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports that "just as one of the American generals was standing to speak, we ." Everyone ducked under chairs, but no explosion rang out. The mortars were duds, but the scare shook the day that was supposed to contain symbolism of the Americans handing over the government to the Iraqis.

  • Insurgents lured an Iraqi police patrol by shooting one officer Tuesday then having a suicide car bomber drive up to the scene and detonating his vehicle while the investigation was underway, killing 12 people in northern Iraq, police said. Police Capt. Farhad Talabani said the bombing took place on a road leaving Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad.

    • Joel Roberts

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