BAGHDAD, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The secular Iraqiya slate, in a bid to secure a parliamentary majority, said it was supporting the Iraqi vice president as the next prime minister.
Iraqiya won March 7 parliamentary elections in Iraq but was well short of the 163-seat majority needed to form a government alone.
Incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, is within sight of the threshold following backing from the Sadrist movement, which took about 10 percent of the seats in March.
Iraqiya officials told Iraq's satellite channel al-Sumaria that the slate had roughly 130 lawmakers on its side, adding it would back Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi as the next prime minister.
Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi is courting Arab neighbors as the political stalemate enters its seventh month. Officials in Riyadh told Allawi, a former interim prime minister, that it was opposed to Maliki because of his close ties to Iran.
Maliki, for his part, arrived in Damascus to meet Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Ties between Damascus and Baghdad soured in 2009 when Maliki blamed Syria for a huge blast that killed more than 100 people.
Syria is home to many Baathist supporters of the former regime of Saddam Hussein. Iraq and Syria mended ties, however, when Baghdad said in September it would reopen its Syrian Embassy.