US Presses Iraqis to End Deadlock
As the Shi'ite Alliance said it would not succumb to pressure from Kurds, Sunnis and others to drop its nomination for prime minister, Zalmay Khalilzad called for a special conference of leaders from all sides to break the stalemate.
President Jalal Talabani convened the new parliament for March 19, a week beyond a supposed constitutional deadline, after a request from Shi'ites to give political parties more time to agree on key posts, including the assembly's speaker.
"We ... are focusing on a national unity government because without it Iraq would face disaster," he told Al Arabiya TV. "To avoid such a disaster, all our efforts are aimed at getting all sides to participate in a national unity government."
A suicide truck bomb killed at least 12 people near Falluja, including a U.S. Marine, police said, though the U.S. military put the toll at five. In Baghdad, a roadside bomb set ablaze a U.S. Abrams tank.
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