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November 11, 2010

Obama Hails Iraqi Power-Sharing Deal

U.S. President Barack Obama says Iraq's new coalition government will be representative, inclusive and reflect the will of the Iraqi people.

Mr. Obama told reporters in Seoul that the power-sharing agreement reached this week marks another milestone for modern Iraq.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also praised the agreement Friday, saying it will "serve the collective interest of the Iraqi people."

After an eight-month deadlock, Iraqi leaders agreed to a deal Wednesday that will keep Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power for another four-year term.

The agreement also gave the Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition the parliament speaker position and allowed Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani to keep the presidency.

But the deal got off to a rough start Thursday, when about two-thirds of Iraqiya's 91 lawmakers walked out of parliament, saying their demands had not been met.

The walkout underlined the fragility of the new agreement and the Sunni minority's distrust of Mr. Maliki, who under Iraqi law, now has 30 days to form his Cabinet.

If the deal holds, it could end the stalemate that has paralyzed Iraqi state institutions since March's inconclusive elections.  Insurgents have taken advantage of the political vacuum to stoke violence.

Separately, U.S. and Iraqi officials say a joint military force killed a suspected militant and arrested his brother in a pre-dawn raid near Fallujah Friday.  Officials say the men, brothers of a provincial council member, are accused of making explosives and supplying weapons to al-Qaida.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.