Iran looms large in Allawi, Riyadh talks

Oct. 11, 2010 at 1:15 PM
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Leaders of the secular Iraqiya slate in Iraq spoke of Iran's political meddling during talks in Riyadh, a spokesman for the party said.

Iraqiya won the March 7 election in Iraq by two seats but fell well short of the 163-seat majority needed to form a ruling government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, is within sight of the coveted majority following support from his former rivals in the political party loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Haidar al-Mulla, a spokesman for Iraqiya, told the Voices of Iraq news agency that Iraqiya leader and former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi met with key leaders in Saudi Arabia during the weekend to discuss the Iranian role in Iraq's political affairs.

"Allawi is leading a delegation comprising key Iraqiya members Saleh al-Mutlaq and Osama al-Nujaifi to Saudi Arabia to discuss Iran's attempts to impose its dictations on the political parties in Iraq" the spokesman said.

Riyadh is wary of Maliki for his close ties to their arch foes in Tehran. Sadr voiced his support for the incumbent following years of self-imposed exile in Iran, where the fiery cleric is said to be pursuing his cleric studies.

Washington, which maintains it has no preference apart from a representative government, suggested it may have problems dealing with an Iraqi government that has ministries held by Sadr supporters.

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