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Former PM Allawi, Shiite cleric al-Sadr in talks on forming govt

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and influential anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr met in the Syrian capital on Monday to try and resolve Iraq's political gridlock and form a new government.


AFP - Two figures at the centre of efforts to form a new Iraqi government, former premier Iyad Allawi and radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, met in Syria's capital on Monday, an AFP photographer said.

President Bashar al-Assad too held talks with Allawi, who has been embroiled in months of haggling over the formation of a new Iraqi government, two days after the Syrian leader met separately with Sadr.

We will never collaborate with Baathists, Americans or terrorists because they are enemies of the Iraqi people. It’s inconceivable for Baathists to play a role in Iraqi political life.

Assad reiterated "Syria's support for any inter-Iraqi accord (on a government) which conserves the unity of Iraq, its Arab identity and its sovereignty," Syria's official news agency SANA reported.

Allawi, who is vying for the post of prime minister with the incumbent, Nuri al-Maliki, in turn thanked Syria for playing host to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and its support for efforts to restore stability in Iraq.

Efforts to form a new government, more than four months after a March 7 election in Iraq, also figured in the talks in Damascus last Saturday between Assad and Sadr.

The bloc of anti-US cleric Sadr, who lives in self-imposed exile in Iran, gained 39 seats in Iraq's new 325-strong parliament, against 91 for Allawi and 89 for Maliki -- both also Shiites.

On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was also headed for Damascus to meet Assad for talks covering Iraq, their common neighbour.


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