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Iraqi Lawmakers: Vote Set for Saturday on New Cabinet


Iraqi lawmakers say Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki has called for parliament to meet on Saturday to ratify a new Cabinet.

The move could signal an end to the political stalemate that has left Iraq without a fully elected government since parliamentary elections were held in December.

Parliament must approve Mr. al-Maliki's appointments before Iraq's first full-term administration since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein can govern. The prime minister's 30-day deadline for forming a government expires Monday.

The United States says a unified Iraqi government is key to ending sectarian violence and insurgent attacks.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces are searching for a United Arab Emirates diplomat who was kidnapped Tuesday in western Baghdad. The diplomat's bodyguard was killed in the abduction.

Separately, police say four civilians were killed Wednesday by bomb blasts in Baghdad. At least 25 people were killed across the country on Tuesday.

In other developments, Saddam Hussein returned to court Wednesday to hear testimony from defense witnesses for some of his co-defendants. The trial was later adjourned until Monday.

The ousted Iraqi leader and seven others are accused of crimes against humanity for the 1982 killings of 148 Shi'ites from the village of Dujail.

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

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