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Iraq's New Assembly to Meet Next Week

Iraqi politicians have set next week for the opening of the country's first democratically elected parliament in modern history.

Among the National Assembly's first tasks will be to elect a prime minister who will form a new government. Negotiations by Iraq's three main political groups have so far not produced an agreement, but officials say lawmakers will convene March 16, even without a deal.

A Shi'ite Muslim alliance that won a slim majority in the January parliamentary elections wants Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister, but interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, whose supporters won far fewer seats, is negotiating to keep his job.

March 16 is the anniversary of a notorious chemical-weapons attack against the Kurdish town of Halabja. Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's forces killed 5,000 people in the 1988 incident.

In the northern city of Baquba Monday, an insurgent attack killed at least five Iraqi soldiers, while at least two policemen died in a car bomb attack.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.