Iraqi claims insurgents ready to talk

A Sunni Arab politician claimed Tuesday that two insurgent groups were willing to negotiate with the Shiite-led government, a disclosure that comes after reports that the government had opened indirect channels to some insurgents. Ayham Al-Samarie, a former Cabinet minister, told The Associated Press the two groups make up 50 percent of the Sunni-dominated insurgency.

If true, the disclosures could indicate that a new front may have been opened in the ongoing effort to bring a political end to the Sunni-dominated insurgency which began two years ago.

Those insurgents launched what appeared to be a coordinated offensive against the Iraqi army in the north, killing at least 18 people, while an American-backed operation went after militants near the Syrian border.