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Biden Meets Iraqi President on Political Deadlock

  • VOA News

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to discuss ways to break the deadlock over forming a new Iraqi government coalition.

Biden and Mr. Talabani met on Monday in Baghdad, the third and final day of Biden's visit to the region. Mr. Talabani's office said they also discussed bilateral ties between Iraq and the United States.

Biden has urged rival Iraqi politicians to end months of delays in forming a new government after the inconclusive March elections.

The U.S. vice president met Sunday with Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his main challenger for the post, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Both men are Shi'ite Muslims.

After the talks, Biden said all of Iraq's sectarian groups will have to play a meaningful role in the next government in order for it to work.

Mr. Allawi said Biden expressed an interest in Iraq's stability, but offered no specific proposals during their meeting to break Iraq's post-election deadlock.

Mr. Allawi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance won 91 seats in Parliament in the March elections, compared to 89 for Mr. Maliki's Shi'ite-dominated State of Law alliance. Both groups were far short of the 163-seat majority needed to govern, and have been trying to form coalitions.

Radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr released a statement urging Mr. Maliki and Mr. Allawi to make sure their political negotiations follow an Iraqi agenda, not an American one.

Insurgents have intensified attacks across Iraq in recent weeks in an apparent attempt to exploit the political stalemate.



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