Vice President Dick Cheney says U.S. officials are not concerned that Iraq's next government will seek to fashion an Islamic state like neighboring Iran.
The vice president was responding a story in the New York Times that said leading Iraqi Shi'ite clerics want Islam to be the guiding principle in Iraq's new constitution.
Asked about the story on the Fox News Sunday television program, Mr. Cheney said it is premature to say what the clerics are pushing for.
But he said Shi'ite religious leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has made it clear that clerics should not play a direct role in the new government. He said he thinks a "great many people" involved in Iraq's political process want a balance between secular beliefs and religion.
Early returns from last Sunday's Iraqi elections show the main Shi'ite coalition headed for victory.