Iraq's Maliki to look into Sunni political demands

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BAGHDAD, Sep 21 (Reuters) Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has agreed to look into political demands of the main Sunni Arab political bloc which pulled out of his Shi'ite-led government last month, his office said.

Maliki held ''positive'' talks late yesterday with members of the Sunni Accordance Front, led by Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zobaie, an official in Maliki's office said.

''The prime minister ordered the formation of a committee to look into the demands of the Accordance Front regarding the government,'' the official said.

The Accordance Front pulled out of Maliki's government in early August, protesting at his failure to address their demands for a greater say in government.

Sunni Arabs, politically dominant under Saddam Hussein, accuse Maliki's government of marginalising them, and want speedier progress on legislation including a law to allow former members of Saddam's Baath Party back into public life.

Other laws aimed at reconciling Iraq's warring Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs have also been stalled in parliament.

Maliki has been further weakened after the movement loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr withdrew from the ruling Shi'ite Alliance in parliament last week.

The Sadr movement's six ministers quit Maliki's cabinet in April over policy differences.

Maliki has suggested forming a ''partnership government'' that would be made up of technocrats to replace his fractured, 16-month-old unity government, but has given few concrete details about his plans.

REUTERS JK SSC1135

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