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Maliki says it's time to rebuild Iraq

May 23, 2008 at 6:48 PM

NAJAF, Iraq, May 23 (UPI) -- Following a meeting in Najaf with Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said it was time to focus on reconstruction.

Maliki said the security situation in Iraq had improved to the point that the national focus now should center on soliciting international companies to help Iraq rebuild.

"We managed to lessen violence in the country and are still working on it," he told Voices of Iraq, adding, "What Iraq needs now is international companies to carry out reconstruction projects and improve the country's infrastructure."

Maliki said the government set aside $48 billion for reconstruction projects in 2008 and invested in financial interests in foreign countries in order to make Iraqi business ventures more attractive.

Meanwhile, Iran's Press TV said Friday that Maliki briefed the Najaf provincial council on the reconstruction issue following a visit with Sistani on national security.

Maliki emerged from the meeting saying he received support from Sistani on a measure to ensure Iraqi national forces are the sole body responsible for enforcing the rule of law.

The Press TV report said Sistani expressed his support for the Maliki government, but also emphasized the need to embrace Sunni leaders in order to promote national reconciliation.

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