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Iraqi Sunni Arabs Maintain Opposition to al-Jaafari


Iraq's Sunni Arab and Kurdish politicians have again rejected the nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to keep his post in the country's next government.

Their decision came after Iraq's Shi'ite alliance established a committee to see if it would be possible to convince the other factions to back Mr. al-Jaafari. The Shi'ites are the largest bloc in parliament, but they need Sunni and Kurdish votes to secure a majority and form a government.

Shi'ite leaders have been trying to form a government for about four months, but differences over Mr. Jaafari have caused delays. Kurdish and Sunni Arab leaders say he has not done enough to ease sectarian violence in Iraq.

Kurdish and Sunni Arab leaders say Mr. al-Jaafari has not done enough to ease sectarian violence in Iraq.

Meanwhile, President Bush marked the third anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and Saddam Hussein's regime, calling it a great moment in the history of freedom.

Speaking in Washington Monday, Mr. Bush praised coalition forces and their families for making sacrifices to liberate Iraq.

He also hailed the Iraqi people for working to rebuild the nation and for taking part in elections to choose a new government, despite threats from insurgents.

The president said now is the time for Iraq's elected officials to come together to form a new government.

Mr. Bush added that coalition and Iraqi forces are committed to battling insurgent groups in Iraq.

He says the worst thing that could happen is for terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and said he is determined to prevent that from happening.

In other news, the U.S. military says a total of three U.S. soldiers died after engaging in combat operations in recent days in Al Anbar Province. A separate statement says more than 90 percent of suicide attacks in Iraq are carried out by terrorists and foreign fighters recruited and equipped by al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Separately, gunmen killed three members of a family at their house in southern Baghdad.

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

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