Fallujah offers to resume peace talks if U.S. attacks stop

Saturday, October 16th 2004, 9:29 am
By: News On 6

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) _ A Fallujah delegation offered Saturday to resume peace talks with the government if the United States ceases attacks against the city and releases the chief negotiator.

``We are ready to resume talks,'' delegation member Khaled Fakhri al-Jumeili told reporters. ``We suspended the talks because we felt that the Iraqi government, especially Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, was meeting the demands of the Americans.''

He said that if attacks and airstrikes stop, ``we are ready to return to the negotiating table.''

Sheik Abdul Hamid Jadou, another delegation member, added that the delegation also wanted its chairman, Khaled al-Jumeili, freed. Witnesses said he was arrested by the Americans on Friday after prayers at a village south of Fallujah.

Talks between Iraqi officials and Fallujah clerics had been underway for weeks to restore government control in the insurgent stronghold 40 miles west of Baghdad.

The talks broke down Thursday over the government's demands that the city hand over Jordanian-born terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the Fallujah leadership maintains is not in the city.