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Iraqi Shi'ite, Kurdish Leaders Say Deal Reached on Constitution

One of Iraq's main Sunni political groups says it has agreed to support a new constitution which will be voted on in Saturday's referendum, after reaching a deal on concessions with Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders.

A top Sunni negotiator, Ayad Sammarai, of the Iraqi Islamic Party, said the party will call for voters to approve the draft in Saturday's vote. It is unclear if other major Sunni parties will reverse their opposition to the constitution.

But the announcement is the first break in the ranks of Sunni Arab leaders, who have been campaigning to defeat the constitution. It came after last-minute talks in which Iraq's main groups agreed to allow parliament next year to consider possible amendments to the document.

For months, Sunnis have opposed the constitution over fears of losing power under a proposed federal system.

The United States has been engaged in efforts to get the Sunnis to approve the constitution in the hope it will weaken the insurgency and enable the departure of foreign troops.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned of a rise in attacks by mostly Sunni insurgents seeking to disrupt the vote. Iraqi police said a series of attacks today killed at least 40 people and wounded dozens more.

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