AFP: US Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Iyad Allawi, one of two principal contenders vying to become Iraq’s next prime minister, to speed up negotiations to form an “inclusive” government.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Iyad Allawi, one of two principal contenders vying to become Iraq’s next prime minister, to speed up negotiations to form an “inclusive” government.
Biden, who has met Iraqi political leaders in a bid to speed up protracted coalition talks since an inconclusive March general election, backed a power-sharing option in the new government, his office said in a statement.
During their telephone conversation, Allawi and Biden “discussed the status of Iraqi negotiations on the formation of a new government,” the vice president’s office said.
“The vice president said the US government shares the goal of the Iraqi people for an inclusive government that reflects the results of the election.”
Despite Biden’s discussion with Allawi, whose broadly secular Iraqiya party narrowly beat incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki State of Law Shiite coalition into second place in the March 7 poll, the vice president’s office stressed that “the United States is not backing specific candidates.”
Biden told Allawi that “all four winning coalitions should have the opportunity to play a role in the new government and expressed support for Iraqi consideration of power-sharing arrangements in accordance with the constitution,” it added.
“The vice president urged Dr Allawi, as he is urging all Iraqi leaders, to expedite efforts to form an inclusive and legitimate government responsive to the needs of the Iraqi people.”
Maliki has been doggedly fighting to stay on and serve a second term, causing a months-long political hiatus in the war-torn nation.
US President Barack Obama’s administration is on track to fulfill a campaign promise to withdraw all US combat troops from Iraq by the end of August. All US troops must be out of the country by the end of 2011 under an agreement with the Iraq government.
Biden has repeatedly called on Iraq’s divided factions to unite and form a government following months of tortuous political negotiations.