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New Iraqi Cabinet Holds First Meeting

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, 21 Dec 2010
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, 21 Dec 2010

Iraq's new Cabinet has held its first meeting after nine months of political stalemate following inconclusive elections in March.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told his Cabinet Wednesday that he wants to focus on security and develop industry, oil, agriculture and electricity. He said he also wants to build Iraqi culture and relations with other nations.

The Iraqi parliament unanimously approved the new government Tuesday.

The lawmakers approved 29 of the 42 Cabinet positions, with "acting ministers" filling the 13 remaining posts until permanent successors are accepted by parliament.

Analysts say filling nearly one-third of the Cabinet on an interim basis could be a point of instability for the new government, and they predict more political wrangling lies ahead.

In a message of congratulations to Iraq's political leaders, U.S. President Barack Obama said the agreement in Baghdad is a major step toward achieving national unity in Iraq.

The U.N. Security Council issued a statement saying it welcomes the "inclusive political process" and encourages Iraq's leaders to rededicate themselves to pursuing national reconciliation.

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

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