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Iraqi Parliament to Meet Next Week


12 April 2006

The acting speaker of Iraq's parliament says he will convene the legislature Monday to push forward the process of forming a national unity government.

Adnan Pachachi, who is a Sunni Arab, made the announcement at a news conference in Baghdad Wednesday.

Iraqi political leaders have been struggling to form a government since parliamentary elections in mid-December.

One of the main obstacles is whether Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shi'ite Muslim, should remain as leader of a new government. Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders have demanded that Shi'ite leaders choose a new prime minister. They say that Mr. Jaafari has done little to curtail Iraq's sectarian violence.

In violence Wednesday, the U.S. military says two American soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb blast in Baghdad. Another explosion in the city's Waziriya district killed one policeman and three civilians.

Iraqi police say several people were killed in car bomb blasts in the towns of Tal Afar and Khalis, north of Baghdad.

Separately, the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was adjourned after handwriting experts scheduled to testify during Wednesday's session failed to show up.

Saddam and his seven codefendants were not present when the presiding judge adjourned the session until Monday.

Meanwhile, Iraq is staying away from an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo, as a protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's recent remarks that most Shi'ites in Arab nations are more loyal to Iran than to their home countries. Mr. Mubarak also contends that Iraq is already in a state of civil war - a conflict that he says could destabilize the entire region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.



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