BAGHDAD, Oct 7: A militia led by Moqtada al Sadr pledged on Thursday to disarm in what could be a major advance for US-Iraqi efforts to contain violence in Iraq before elections due in January.

The proposal, which meets a key demand of the interim government, was announced by Ali Smeism, a top Sadr adviser, on the Al Arabiya television. It followed the release of a pro-Sadr leader from US detention in Abu Ghraib jail.

Ali Smeism said that in return for any weapons surrender, the government must guarantee that Sadr's followers are not "persecuted" and the US military must free more of his aides.

He said the proposed deal focused on militiamen holed up in the Baghdad slum district of Sadr City, a hotbed of anti-US activity, but could be extended to other "areas of tension".

Talks are also under way to defuse a standoff with Guerillas controlling Fallujah. Soon after Smeism's announcement, guerillas delivered a noisy reminder of their presence, sending at least two rockets crashing into central Baghdad's Sheraton hotel. -Reuters

Opinion

Editorial

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