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Tony Blair meets Iraqi president

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October 06, 2005 19:40 IST

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday for talks focused on the upcoming referendum on Iraq's draft constitution.

A smiling Blair stepped outside his Downing Street officer to greet Talabani, who is on his first official visit to London since taking office in April.

Officials said Talabani would brief Blair on preparations for the October 15 constitutional referendum and for Iraqi elections scheduled for December. Iraq's Shiite majority and the Kurdish minority overwhelmingly support the constitution.

Many Sunni Arabs, who make up 20 per cent of Iraq's population, oppose it because they fear it will divide the country into three districts: a Kurdish north and a Shiite south, controlling Iraq's oil wealth, with a poor majority Sunni area in the middle.

The meeting comes a day after a senior British official accused Iran's Revolutionary Guard of supplying explosives used to attack British soldiers in southern Iraq. Eight British soldiers have died in the area since May. Iran denies the allegation.

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