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    Iraq's PM Maliki in talks to form government

    By Super
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    Baghdad, Apr 26: Iraq's Prime Minister-designate Jawad al-Maliki said in an interview broadcast that he had started talks with other political blocs to form a government of national unity.

    Maliki, a tough-talking Shi'ite politician, said all ministries, including Interior and Defence, will be open to all parties and that religious affiliation would not determine appointments to ministries.

    ''We started a dialogue with the participants. We need your thoughts about the ministries you want. This does not mean there are problems,'' Maliki told state television Iraqiya.

    Maliki was designated by parliament on Saturday to head Iraq's first full-term government since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a US-led invasion.

    He has 30 days starting on Saturday to form a government and present it for a vote in parliament.

    Appointing an Interior Ministry is a very sensitive issue in Iraq. Sunni leaders have accused the interim Shi'ite-run Interior Ministry of running death squads targeting Sunnis. Shi'ite officials deny this.

    A government comprising Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds is seen as the best hope to avert a civil war. Sectarian tensions are running high since the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine.

    Reuters

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