Sunni aspirations on constitution should be met, Iraq president says

Iraq's new constitution must be for all its people and should meet the aspirations of Sunni Arabs, President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday. Insurgents attacked Iraqi police patrols Wednesday in western Baghdad with three car bombs and small arms fire, killing at least three people and wounding 10, police said.

Two of the car bombs piloted by suicide drivers exploded near the western neighborhood of Khadra, police Capt. Taleb Thamer said. He said three civilians were killed and 10 people, including three policemen, were wounded.

Following the explosions, dozens of gunmen attacked police with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Clashes continued in midafternoon, police and witnesses said.

Also Wednesday, deputy justice minister Awshoo Ibrahim escaped a second assassination attempt in two days when gunmen fired at his convoy, killing four of his bodyguards and wounding five, police said.

Speaking after a meeting with parliament speaker Hajim al-Hassani, Talabani said the country's stability cannot be achieved without consensus among Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis Arabs and Kurds.

"The constitution will be to serve everybody and not only one community of the Iraqi society," Talabani said. "We hope that all the pending disagreements be solved in what guarantees consensus between the three (main) communities in Iraq and in what guarantees the satisfaction and approval of our Sunni brothers in this important matter."

Sunni members of the constitutional drafting committee oppose several parts of the document, which was handed to parliament Monday. Their opposition forced parliament to delay a vote for at least three days to give Shiite and Kurdish negotiators time to win over the Sunnis.

The Sunni objections include federalism, references to Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led Baath Party and the description of Iraq as an Islamic _ but not Arab _ country.

Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi, spokesman for the major Sunni clerical organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars, reiterated that that any political process under U.S. occupation "would not serve the interests of Iraq."

"This week's constitutional process has paved the way to the partition of Iraq and wiping out it is identity and it has failed to gain a national acceptance," al-Kubaisi said. "We call upon the United States to end its arrogance and not impose useless political processes on the Iraqi people, and to put a timetable for its withdrawal from Iraq," reports the AP.

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