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US congratulates Iraqi parliament on new speaker

Iraqi lawmaker Salim Abdullah al-Juburi speaks to the press in Baghdad on November 23, 2009
Iraqi lawmaker Salim Abdullah al-Juburi speaks to the press in Baghdad on November 23, 2009

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."

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