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Iraq to approve new Saudi ambassador
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Feb 21, 2012

Iraq will approve the nomination of a non-resident Saudi ambassador, the Iraqi foreign minister said Tuesday, terming it a positive sign for the normalisation of ties between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia has not had an ambassador to Iraq since 1990, the year now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

"We will accept and we certainly welcome" the presentation of "the Saudi ambassador in Amman's credentials as non-resident ambassador" to Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AFP.

It is "a very positive sign ... for the normalisation of relations" between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, he said.

"Iraq's response accepting this request will be quick," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's spokesman Ali Mussawi told AFP.

"The Iraqi government welcomes this step, and we consider it a first step, and we are waiting for more steps," such as "the appointment of a resident ambassador in the country," he said.

A Saudi official told AFP on Monday that the kingdom had nominated its ambassador in Jordan as the non-resident ambassador in Iraq.

"We presented today the nomination of the ambassador of the Kingdom for Jordan as the non-resident ambassador in Iraq," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The request was presented to the Iraqi embassy in Riyadh, the official said.

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Iraq's 2012 executions top 2011's number
Baghdad (AFP) Feb 21, 2012 - Iraq executed four people this week, bringing the number of people put to death so far this year to at least 69, or one more than in all of 2011, a justice ministry official said on Tuesday.

"Four people, two of them convicted of terrorism-related charges and the others convicted of murder and kidnapping, were executed on Monday morning," the official told AFP.

All four were Iraqis, the official said.

The country has carried out several mass executions in 2012, including one in which 14 people were put to death on February 7, and another in which 17 were executed on January 31.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has expressed shock at the number of executions, criticising the lack of transparency in court proceedings and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty.

"I call on the government of Iraq to implement an immediate moratorium on the institution of the death penalty," she said.

"Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day," said Pillay.


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Suicide bomber kills 15 at Baghdad police academy
Baghdad (AFP) Feb 19, 2012
A suicide car bomber blew himself up in front of a Baghdad police academy on Sunday, killing 15 people and wounding 21 others in the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital in weeks, security officials said. At least eight other people were killed in attacks elsewhere in Iraq. The suicide bomber "blew himself up at the entrance of the police academy on Palestine Street," an interior minist ... read more

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