Iraqi Prime Minister in Saudi Arabia to discuss reconciliation plan

Al-Maliki. who will leave for Saudi Arabia on Saturday, will also visit Islam's holiest shrine in Mecca and perform the ritual known as Omra, or minor pilgrimage, said the official on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

There was no confirmation from the Iraqi government but Dr. Akram al-Hakim, minister of state for national dialogue, told the Shiite-run Furat television that al-Maliki would visit three Gulf countries soon, the AP reports.

Al-Maliki's visit comes days after his decision to reach out to the Sunni insurgency with a reconciliation plan that includes an amnesty for fighters. The prime minister's office was indirectly contacted this week by 11 insurgent groups, some of which insisted that Saudi Arabia be an observer in future peace talks. Iraqi officials said.

On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad held talks in Saudi Arabia with King Abdullah and other senior officials on the situation in Iraq.