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Iraq's Maliki, Challenger Allawi Agree to Hold More Talks, Sumaria TV Says

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his main electoral challenger Ayad Allawi met for more than two hours late yesterday and agreed to hold more talks as the country seeks a new government almost four months after elections, al-Sumaria Television said.

The two frontrunners in the March 7 parliamentary election held their second meeting since the vote at Allawi’s Baghdad office, Beirut-based al-Sumaria reported. Senior politicians from both al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance and Allawi’s Iraqiyah bloc also attended, the channel said.

Both Allawi, who was backed by mainly Sunni Muslim voters and al-Maliki, leader of a Shiite Muslim alliance, claim the right to form the new government as leader of the largest bloc in the 325 seat parliament. Neither has secured the backing of enough lawmakers to command a majority.

Talks to form a new Iraqi government are proceeding as the U.S. prepares to cut troop levels in Iraq from about 86,000 to 50,000 by September, before a full withdrawal next year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Caroline Alexander in London at calexander1@bloomberg.net.

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