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US urged to help break Iraq deadlock

Associated Press / September 28, 2010

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UNITED NATIONS — Iraq’s foreign minister urged the United States yesterday to take a more active role in breaking the deadlock over formation of a new government, saying the nearly seven-month election stalemate has not only left the country in limbo but also hurt its economy.

Hoshyar Zebari said that since the pullout of US combat forces at the end of August, Iraqi security forces have proved that they are taking responsibility. But while there hasn’t been a security vacuum, he added, the failure to form a government is creating serious problems.

“Lack of efforts of government formation has been very negative on all aspects of life,’’ Zebari said. “Everybody is holding back to see whether there would be a government, whether this political, security stability can last.’’

A Sunni-backed coalition led by the nation’s former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, narrowly defeated Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-dominated bloc in March elections, but political bosses have been deadlocked over forming a new government. The Iraqi public grown increasingly frustrated, and Iraqi and US officials fear that insurgents are trying to exploit the political vacuum in an attempt to reignite sectarian tensions.

Zebari said the Obama administration has not taken “an active or proactive engaging role’’ because it believes the formation of the government should be done by the Iraqis themselves.

“I personally think strongly that they have a role: to encourage, to urge, to facilitate the Iraqis leaders to meet, to take the process further,’’ he said.

Zebari said there has been “an important positive result’’ of the delay in forming a government.

It shows “that the Iraqi leaders, that the new Iraq, will not budge to foreign pressures, not to Iran, not to the United States, not to Arab countries, not to Turkey,’’ he said. “They want to decide their own future, to choose their own government, their own leaders by themselves. But their way — it has taken us too long.’’

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