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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Shi'ite Party Quits Iraq Government Talks

12 May 2006

An Iraqi Shi'ite political party has pulled out of talks on forming a new government and criticized other parties for the way top cabinet positions are being distributed.

A spokesman for the Fadhila party, which is one of seven groups in the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance, told reporters in Baghdad Friday the party will not join the cabinet, but will remain in parliament. He said selection of ministers was being dictated by personal interests and pressure from the United States.

Earlier, Iraqi politicians said a dispute within the Alliance over the post of oil minister was holding up the announcement of a new government.

Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki had been expected to announce his new cabinet Thursday and present it to parliament for approval.

Meanwhile, a car bomb went off near the offices of Mr. Maliki's Dawa party in Baghdad, but there were no reports of casualties or damage.

The United States says formation of a unified Iraqi government is key to establishing security in the country.

In other news, the U.S. military said four American Marines drowned late Thursday when their tank rolled off a bridge into a canal in Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

Also on Thursday, separate roadside bomb blasts in Baghdad killed three U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi street cleaners.

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

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