Iraq's parliament has postponed what would have been only its second meeting since parliamentary elections in March.

Lawmakers said they were unable to agree Tuesday about who should form a new government.  The delay extends the political deadlock that has plagued the country since the March election.  No date has been set for the next meeting of Parliament.

The top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, visited Iraq Tuesday and said progress by the Iraqi government and security forces are allowing the continued withdrawal of American troops.  He said 50,000 U.S. troops would be left in the country by September.

Mullen says he was impressed by the role Iraqi security forces have taken since U.S. troops pulled out of the main cities last year.  He says violence is down significantly from one year ago and has reached its lowest level since 2003.

University of Pennsylvania political science prof. Ian Lustick discusses the political situation in Iraq:

Admiral Mullen met with Iraqi military and government leaders, including Defense Minister Abd al-Qadir Muhammad al-Mufriji, incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Mr. Allawi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance won 91 seats in parliament in the March elections.  Mr. Maliki's Shi'ite-dominated State of Law alliance captured 89 seats.  Both groups were far short of the 163-seat majority needed to govern, and each has been trying to form a ruling coalition.

Under Iraq's constitution, the parliament should have picked a president two weeks ago.  The president would then have chosen a prime minister and asked him to form a government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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