BAGHDAD — Iraq said Friday that it was investigating reports that U.S. delegates and Sunni insurgents held reconciliation talks in Turkey this year, alleging the meetings violate Iraqi sovereignty and show tolerance for terrorists.
The State Department said the U.S. has met with many groups to promote reconciliation and that Iraq knew of these in particular at the time.
The matter raises questions about Iraqis' newfound authority after the United States handed over security responsibilities in cities to Iraqi forces June 30.
Ali al-Jubouri, identified as the secretary-general of the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance, told Al-Jazeera TV last week that his group held talks with U.S. officials in March and May. He said the sides signed a "protocol to organize the negotiation process and a document that included U.S. recognition of the Iraqi resistance" but the talks broke down.
U.S. diplomatic and military officials have negotiated with Sunni insurgents in the past and scored a notable success by persuading Sunni tribal leaders to turn against al-Qaida in Iraq in what was considered a key factor in reducing violence in 2007.
In an interview with the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra network, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he received confirmation of a meeting involving U.S., insurgent and Turkish representatives in Istanbul in March.
Zebari said it was "shocking" and "amazing" that the U.S. and Turkey met "the supporters of the former regime, groups that adopt violence and terrorism."