US congratulates Iraqi parliament on new speaker
The United States congratulated violence-plagued Iraq on Tuesday for electing a new parliamentary speaker, calling it an important first step in forming a new government after extensive delays.
MPs in Iraq's fractious legislature elected Salim al-Juburi parliament speaker, a post traditionally held by a Sunni Arab that must be filled before the process of forming a government can proceed.
Iraqi MPs have been under increasing international pressure to put aside their differences and work to counter a major onslaught by the jihadist-led Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that has seized considerable territory north and west of Baghdad.
"The election of a speaker is the first step in the critical process of forming a new government that can take into account the rights, aspirations, and legitimate concerns of all Iraq's communities," Kerry said in a statement.
"We urge Iraq's leaders to follow this achievement with rapid formation of a new government pursuant to Iraq's constitutional timelines."
Worsening political discord in Iraq has seen ties between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who insists on running for a third term, and Iraq's Kurds plunge to new lows, dimming the prospects for a unified front against the jihadists.
But the stakes for Iraq's future "could not be clearer," Kerry said.
"Much depends on the ability of Iraq's leaders to come together and take a united stand against ISIL," he added.
"As they do, the United States will remain a steadfast partner in support of their fight for the democratic process and against ISIL."