Iraq PM calls on Saddam officers to return to army
Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister called on Saturday for the return of all officers of Saddam Hussein's disbanded army in an overture to disaffected Sunni Arabs aimed at reducing sectarian violence.
Nuri al-Maliki made the call at a national reconciliation conference of Shi'ites, Sunni Arab and Kurdish politicians called to halt communal bloodshed that has raised the specter of civil war and was a major reason for U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to review his Iraq strategy.
"The new Iraqi army is opening the door to former Iraqi army officers. Those who do not come back will be given pensions," Maliki said, in remarks in which he also told leaders to embrace reconciliation as a "safety net from death and destruction."
Shortly after the U.S. invasion to topple Saddam, U.S. administrator Paul Bremer dissolved the Iraqi army, a move experts said drove many Sunni Arab soldiers and officers into the Sunni-led insurgency.