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Iraqi PM Seeks Political Support in Egypt

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, meets with Iraq's Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, 20 Oct 2010

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with officials in Egypt Wednesday as part of his regional tour to boost support for his bid to stay in power.

Egypt's state-run MENA news agency says Mr. Maliki and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed efforts to form a national unity government in Iraq, after March elections yielded inconclusive results.

The two leaders also discussed efforts to increase Egyptian investments in Iraq. The leaders agreed to seek ways to remove obstacles preventing Egyptian companies from investing in Iraqi sectors such as housing and energy.

On Monday, Mr. Maliki met with top officials in Iran and also with anti-American Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has been living intermittently in Iran. Iran's support could be critical for Mr. Maliki because of its influence on Iraq's Shi'ite majority.

Prime Minister Maliki's Shi'ite-dominated coalition placed second in March elections to a Sunni-backed bloc led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi. However, both groups fell short of the majority needed to govern and have been reaching out to other political blocs.

The French news agency (AFP) quotes Mr. Maliki as saying discussions are taking place and a new Iraqi government should be formed soon.

The Iraqi prime minister began his regional tour with a visit to Syria last week. He has also traveled to Jordan.

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