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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Majority Leader: Iraq Needs a Peace Conference

The violence within Iraq could benefit from a peace conference such as that in Dayton, Ohio in 1995 that helped solve the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the Democratic majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Many scholars have called for a Dayton-like peace conference, an idea I support," says Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland. "Frankly, it is time for the president to accept that we are no longer involved in a nation-building exercise. We are involved in a conflict resolution, and there is no better means for resolving such conflicts, especially escalating civil wars that run the risk of becoming genocide, than to convene an international conference to achieve a cessation of violence and advance reconciliation."

President Bush has called for an increase of more than 20,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, a move opposed by Hoyer and other Democratic leaders in Congress.

Sectarian violence has surged in Iraq over the last year, prompting some to say Iraq is in civil war. U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003 and overthrew strongman Saddam Hussein. Moer than 3,000 U.S. service personnel have lost their lives in Iraq.

Organizing a peace conference for Iraq would also help United States' reputation abroad, Hoyer says.

"I urge the president to do this. I would propose that the conference be carried out under U.N. auspices with robust involvement from various Iraqi factions, neighboring countries, key Middle East nations, the European Union and others with the hope of brokering deals on securing Iraq's borders, disbanding militias, finalizing the constitution, establishing divisions of power and oil resources and other outstanding issues," Hoyer says.

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