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Clinton Pressures Iraqi Leaders to Form Government

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for a "greater sense of urgency" among Iraq's political parties to form a coalition government and end a four-month stalemate following inconclusive elections.

Clinton spoke Tuesday after talks in Washington with visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Clinton said the United States was concerned by the delay and said there was a "critical need" for Iraqi politicians to overcome their differences and assemble a government quickly.

Iraq's two main political parties have been unable to agree on a new government since March 7 elections, in which neither party gained enough seats to form a majority in the 325-member parliament.

Iraq's foreign minister said he believed "eventually" a government will emerge and that Iraqi parties are doing their best to reach an agreement, recognizing the urgency.

Clinton also expressed condolences for the recent loss of life in continuing attacks on religious pilgrims and security forces.

Iraqi security officials said at least four people were killed Tuesday in separate bomb and gun attacks.

In the town of Khales, just north of Baghdad, a hidden bomb went off inside a mock coffin being carried by protesters, killing at least one and wounding seven others.

The protesters were marching to demand harsher punishment for perpetrators of recent bombing attacks in the region, including a car bombing in May that killed 30 people in a crowded marketplace.

In the western city of Fallujah, police say a driver died when a bomb attached to his vehicle went off. Meanwhile, just south Baghdad, gunmen killed a man and another relative after storming his family home.

Although overall levels of violence in Iraq have fallen since their peak in 2006 to 2007, attacks on civilians and security forces are still common.

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