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Iraqi PM says will deal with illegal militias

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, Oct 25 (Reuters) Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged today to tackle illegal militias blamed for widespread sectarian violence that has hampered US efforts to hand over control to Iraqi security forces and pull out.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said yesterday Iraqi leaders had agreed to a timetable of political and security measures and he expected ''significant progress'' on the steps in the next 12 months, including tackling militias.

Speaking at a news conference today, Maliki said he would deal with the militias. ''The state is the only one that has the right to carry weapons,'' he said. ''We will deal with anybody who is outside the law.'' Maliki, a Shi'ite, has struggled to balance the conflicting demands of his Shi'ite coalition government.

Six months after he took office, with vital support from Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, he has made little headway on curbing activity by militias. Khalilzad singled out Sadr's Mehdi Army militia as needing to be ''brought under control''.

REUTERS BDP BD1455

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