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Iraqi Leaders Plan to Convene Parliament Thursday


Iraqi political leaders say they plan to convene parliament Thursday, amid urgent calls from the international community to form a unity government.

A legislative session set for Monday had been postponed due to the continuing impasse over who will head the next government. Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders have rejected the nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to keep his post. They say he has not done enough to stop sectarian violence.

Wednesday Mr. Jaafari reiterated his refusal to step down.

In other news, the chief judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein ruled that the ousted dictator's signature is authentic on documents related to a crackdown on Shi'ite Muslims in 1982 that left 148 dead.

Judge Rauf Abdel Rahman adjourned the trial until next week.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants face death by hanging if found guilty of the killings.

Meanwhile, at least 17 people have been killed today in violence across the country. South of Baghdad, insurgents blew up a new police station, destroying half the building but causing no casualties.

And the U.S. military says a coalition soldier died from wounds sustained when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb on Tuesday.

In Washington, President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to Iraq, saying failure in the country is "not an option." He also called on Iraqis to form a unity government.

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

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