Iraq ready to host Arab summit: president

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BAGHDAD: Iraq has completed its preparations for an Arab summit that is to be held in Baghdad at the end of March, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in a statement on Monday.

“The president of the republic, Jalal Talabani assured today that special preparations for the Arab summit are completed, and Baghdad is now ready to receive the Arab leaders,” the statement on the Iraqi presidency’s website said.

The statement said that Talabani was leaving for medical treatment in the United States, but “will be back soon to receive leaders coming to participate in the Arab summit” which is due to be held on March 29.

It did not specify the nature of the treatment.

The statement came on the same day that suspected Al-Qaeda militants went on a shooting spree in the town of Haditha in western Iraq, killing 27 policemen.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said last month that Iraq is capable of securing the areas where the summit will be held.

“We gave commitments that we are capable and able to protect the areas and the spaces where the activities of the summit will be held,” Zebari said in a television interview.

The interview was broadcast on Feb. 24, a day after a wave of attacks across Iraq killed 42 people and wounded over 250.

Violence across the country is down from its peaks in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 150 Iraqis were killed in February, according to official figures.

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