Iraq's prime minister and president have announced a new political alliance of mainstream Shi'ite and Kurdish parties that does not include any Sunni groups.
Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Kurdish President Jalal Talabani unveiled the partnership Thursday at a news conference in Baghdad.
Mr. Talabani said his Sunni deputy, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, refused to join the group. But the president said the door remains open.
Hashemi's Iraqi Accordance Front is the main Sunni bloc in parliament. Its withdrawal from Mr. Maliki's Cabinet earlier this month left his unity government in crisis.
The Shi'ite members of the new alliance include Mr. Maliki's Dawa Party and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, SIIC, of Vice President Adel Abdel-Mahdi.
The alliance also includes two Kurdish factions - Mr. Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Kurdish Democratic Party, PDK, of Massoud Barzani.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.