Inclusive Iraqi govt will form soon, says al-Maliki

Iraqi incumbent premier Nouri al-Maliki today said he expects a new Iraqi government will be formed soon.

"We are at the end of the tunnel," al-Maliki said. "The new government will soon come to light."

Following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, al-Maliki told reporters the anticipated government will guarantee "real representation," that will not alienate any of Iraq's sects.

"Our goal is certainly to form a strong, cohesive government that represents all sections of the Iraqi people," al-Maliki said. "If we had been seeking a government based only on parliamentary seats, we could have done that along ago. We need all people to contribute to this government and have their own share of responsibility." 

Al-Maliki stressed Mubarak's stance was to support the choice of all Iraqi sects. He added that their meeting tackled in detail the political situation in Iraq.

Achieving peace and stability in Iraq would require fostering relations and signing deals with friendly states who can help in reconstruction efforts, al-Maliki said.

The incumbent prime minister said Mubarak had directed Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to monitor the work of Egyptian firms operating in Iraq and ensure they are stepping up their contribution to the reconstruction process.

"We vowed to provide all facilitation possible for Egyptian firms to remain in the Iraqi market along with other foreign companies," said al-Maliki, who added that obstacles faced by the companies–which operate largely in the housing, gas, or oil sectors–will be circumvented through mutual cooperation.

He suggested at the same time establishing a free commercial zone to ease mutual trade, and to transfer Iraqi natural gas through the Arab pipeline which extends from Egypt to other Arab states.

Al-Maliki's visit is part of a regional tour that aims to garner regional backing for his efforts to form a new government, particularly after gaining support from the Iraqi parliament's biggest Shia bloc. He has, thus far, passed through Iran, Syria, and Jordan.

Spokesperson for Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hossam Zaki, denied Iraqi and Arab accusations that Egypt is favoring specific parties to the Iraqi crisis, describing such accusations as "baseless". Zaki reiterated Egypt's concern for the formation of a new Iraqi government that grants representation to all Iraqi sects.

Iraq's elections held in March this year saw former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc acquire 91 parliament seats, compared to 88 for al-Maliki's State of Law, and 70 seats for the National Iraqi Alliance. None of the three blocs managed to form a coalition to gain the majority required to form a government.

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