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Iraq Transition

Iraq president rejects Baker-Hamilton report

Story Highlights

• Talabani: Report undermines Iraq's sovereignty
• At least 22 people killed in Baghdad during weekend violence
• Iraqi Interior Ministry: At least 40 Sunni families forced to flee Baghdad homes
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani rejected the Iraq Study Group's report Sunday, calling it "very dangerous" to Iraq's sovereignty and constitution.

"We can smell in it the attitude of James Baker," Talabani said, referring to the report's co-chair who served as secretary of state under President George H. W. Bush during the 1991 Iraq war.

Talabani blamed Baker for leaving then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in power after that conflict, which ousted Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

He also criticized the report for recommending a law that would allow thousands of former officials from Hussein's ousted Baath party to serve in Iraqi government posts.

The report, released Wednesday, makes 79 recommendations. Among them: Most U.S. combat troops should be withdrawn by early 2008, Iraq's vast oil wealth should be more centralized and the U.S. should launch a diplomatic offensive that would include seeking help from Iran and Syria.

"As a whole, I reject this report," Talabani said.

"I think that Baker-Hamilton is not fair, is not just, and it contains some very dangerous articles which undermine the sovereignty of Iraq and the constitution," Talabani said.

Lee Hamilton, the report's other co-chair, also served as vice chairman of the 911 Commission, which concluded that the U.S. remains ill-prepared for another terrorist attack.

Gunmen storm Shiite houses

Gunmen stormed two Shiite houses in western Baghdad's predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Jihad on Sunday morning, killing nine people, Baghdad police said.

The dead were from two Shiite families and included police commissioner Saad Taresh and three of his sons, police said. Five brothers in the second Shiite family were also killed, the police official said.

The neighborhood has seen a number of revenge killings in the past four months, the police official said.

But Sunday's attacks were not related to an attack by Shiite militiamen on Sunni houses in northwest Baghdad's Hurriya neighborhood Saturday afternoon, the official added.

That attack forced at least 40 Sunni families to flee Hurriya, an Iraqi Ministry official said. Eight people -- including two women and a child -- were killed, and 13 others were wounded in the attack, a hospital official said.

Also Sunday, five people were killed and six wounded during fighting between Shiite militiamen and al-Janabat Sunni tribe members in southwest Baghdad's Amil neighborhood, police said.

Other developments

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld paid a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq Saturday to thank them and say goodbye, nine days before he is to leave his job, a Defense Department spokesman said. (Full story)
  • The United States will face hatred and failure in the Middle East if the White House rejects the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, Syria warned on Sunday, according to The Associated Press. Syria's ruling party's Al-Baath newspaper urged President Bush to take the group's report seriously because it would "diminish hatred for the U.S. in region," AP reported.
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