Iraqi Vice President Tariq al Hashemi arrives in Qatar. Baghdad calls the visit unacceptable and asks Qatar to hand him over.

Iraq Vice President Tariq Al Hashimi arrived here yesterday on a several-day official visit to Qatar. He was welcomed on arrival at Doha International Airport by the Minister of State H E Sheikh Hamad bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani, according to the Qatar News Agency quoted by the local english language newspaper The Peninsula. Hashemi, one of the top politicians from the Sunni minority, is accused by Baghdad’s Shia-led government of running death squads, a charge he denies. He has been holed up in the Kurdish zone since Baghdad issued an arrest warrant for him in December.

“Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi left on Sunday morning… heading to Doha in the brotherly state of Qatar in accordance with an invitation he received previously,” a statement from his office said. “It (the visit) is expected to last for a few days, then the vice president will visit other countries, which will be announced later, then he will come back… to his residency in Iraq’s Kurdistan.” Hashemi has remained in the Kurdish region, saying he cannot receive a fair trial in Baghdad.

Iraq on Monday said Qatar’s welcoming of Baghdad’s fugitive Sunni Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi was “unacceptable” and called on Doha to hand him over. “The state of Qatar receiving a wanted person is an unacceptable act and Qatar should back off from this stance, and return him to Iraq,” Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Al Shahristani told a news conference in Baghdad.

Shahristani added that the autonomous Kurdistan region, where Hashemi had been holed up since charges were issued against him in December, had committed a “clear challenge to law and justice” by allowing him to leave the country.

source: QNA, The Peninsula, Agencies