Iraq's newly sworn-in presidential council has named Shi'ite politician Ibrahim al-Jaafari interim prime minister.

Mr. al-Jaafari, the head of the influential Islamic Dawa party, told a news conference the day represents a big step forward for Iraq.  He also said he hopes to form a government within two weeks.

Mr. al-Jaafari's appointment followed Thursday's historic swearing-in of Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani as Iraq's first freely-elected president in more than 50 years.

In remarks to legislators gathered at the ceremony inside Baghdad's heavily protected Green Zone, President Talabani urged Sunni Arabs - who are believed to make up the backbone of the insurgency - to participate in the democratic process.

Two vice presidents also took the oath of office. They are Shi'ite Adel Abdul Mahdi and Sunni Arab Ghazi al-Yawar.

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