Al-Jaafari, Talabani in UN summit row

A row has erupted between Iraq's Kurdish president and Shia prime minister over who will head Iraq's delegation to the annual UN summit next month, Iraqi officials from both camps say.

    Talabani said he, as head of state, should lead the team

    The four officials said President Jalal Talabani was displeased by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's insistence that he should lead the country's delegation at

    the General Assembly session in New York and a meeting with US President George Bush.

     

    None of the four would allow their names to be published because the issue is sensitive at a time when the Shia and Kurds are trying to maintain unity to promote the new constitution in a 15 October referendum.

     

    According to all four officials, the dispute began when Talabani sent a letter to al-Jaafari declaring that as Iraq's titular head of state, he would be representing the

    country at the annual UN session.

     

    Al-Jaafari replied by saying that since he runs the government, he should head the delegation; the prime minister suggested that both he and Talabani could deliver

    General Assembly speeches but the president refused.

     

    Two speeches

     

    Al-Jaafari says as prime minister
    he should lead the UN delegation

    On Saturday, Talabani's spokesman, Kamran Qaradaghi, issued a statement saying the president would deliver two speeches at the UN summit on 15 and 17 September.

    He added that Talabani would be heading a high-level delegation that would meet Bush and other senior official earlier in the month.

     

    A Shia politician, who also refused to be identified, said al-Jaafari decided that unless he could make a speech too, he would stay home.

     

    Under Iraq's interim constitution, Talabani leads a three-member council that serves collectively as a head of state.

     

    But al-Jaafari runs the government, similar to Germany which has a president with few powers and a chancellor who governs.

     

    In May, Talabani represented Iraq in the Summit of South American-Arab in Brazil, which took place less than two weeks after al-Jaafari's government took power.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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