News / Middle East

President Obama Welcomes New Iraqi Government

Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, center left, shakes hands with Osama al-Nujeifi, center right, the elected parliament speaker during a Parliament session in Baghdad, Iraq, 11 Nov 2010
Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, center left, shakes hands with Osama al-Nujeifi, center right, the elected parliament speaker during a Parliament session in Baghdad, Iraq, 11 Nov 2010

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U.S. President Barack Obama is praising the end of eight months of political stalemate in Baghdad and the formation of a new Iraqi government. Under the deal, Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remains in power for another four years, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition gets the parliament speaker position and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani keeps the presidency.

President Barack Obama called the new Iraqi government inclusive.  "All indications are that the government will be representative, inclusive and reflect the will of the people who cast their ballots in the last election," said President Obama.  "This agreement marks another milestone of history of modern Iraq."

President Obama told reporters in Seoul that Iraqis are showing that their determination to unify their country and build its future is stronger than those who want Iraq to descend into sectarian war and terror.

Iraqi leaders agreed to a deal Wednesday that keeps Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power for another four-year term.

But the deal, that ended an eight-month old stalemate, got off to a rough start Thursday, when about two-thirds of Iraqiya's 91 lawmakers walked out of parliament because they said their demands had not been met.

Mr. Maliki has 30 days to form his cabinet, but the walkout exposes the fragility of the new agreement and the Sunni minority's distrust of Mr. Maliki.

Ordinary Iraqis on the street welcomed the end of the stalemate.  There was also positive reaction in Iraq's mostly Shiite neighbor Iran.

In a sermon during Friday prayers, the head of the Guardian Council, one of Iran's top clerical ruling bodies, praised the Shiite prime minister's return to power in Iraq. He said it was a blow to neighboring, mainly Sunni Arab countries who opposed him.

"Under God's will, the Iraqi people showed their wisdom and vigilance," said Ahmad Jannati, head of the Guardian Council.

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

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