The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council has nominated a Shi'ite member of the council, Iyad Allawi, to be prime minister in the country's interim government. A spokesman for the United Nations says the organization welcomes and respects the decision.
A U.N. spokesman in New York, Fred Eckhard, referred to Mr. Allawi as "prime minister-designate" and said special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is ready to work with him.
He made the remarks after Governing Council members said Mr. Allawi was unanimously chosen to be the Council's candidate for prime minister of Iraq's first post-war government.
Mr. Brahimi is currently putting together the interim administration that will run Iraq after the U.S.-led coalition hands over sovereignty on June 30.
Mr. Allawi went into exile after turning against the government of Saddam Hussein and formerly headed an opposition group that received support from U.S. and British intelligence agencies.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters in Washington he thinks once the new Iraqi leaders are named, some of them should come to New York to discuss a new U-N Security Council resolution on Iraq.
"I expect that that will occur. I think it would be good for this new Iraqi interim government, as we're considering the resolution, to present its views on that resolution," he said.
President Bush says progress is being made on reaching agreement on the resolution recognizing the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq and authorizing a U.S.-led international security force in the country.
Mr. Bush held talks on Iraq at the White House with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and consulted on Iraq with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
Mr. Bush reassured the Danish leader that the new Iraqi government will have real power. "I told the prime minister that our government and our coalition will transfer full sovereignty, complete and full sovereignty, to an Iraqi government that will be picked by Mr. Brahimi of the United Nations. He said, 'Do you mean full sovereignty?" I said, "I mean full sovereignty,'" he said.
Denmark has about 500 troops in Iraq and has been a staunch U-S ally in the war.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops and militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed in the southern city of Kufa, threatening the status of a day-old ceasefire.
U.S.-led coalition forces say they are halting all offensive operations in Kufa and neighboring Najaf, after Shi'ite leaders said Moqtada al-Sadr had agreed to withdraw his fighters from the area.
Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said he is hopeful the truce will hold. "We want to reach a peaceful resolution. Can this be done? It remains to be seen, but the initial signs are positive and those continue, those initial signs continue today. Today we continue to be cautiously optimistic about the direction this situation is heading," he said.
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, says U.S. forces will continue to patrol and guard buildings in Najaf until Iraqi security forces are in place to protect the city's residents.
Coalition officials have not changed their demands that Moqtada al-Sadr dissolve his militia and face Iraqi charges in connection with the murder of a rival cleric last year.
In Baghdad more than 600 detainees were released from the Abu Ghraib prison as part of a program to reduce the number of inmates there by half.
The prison is the focus of a series of investigations into the abuse of detainees by American soldiers.