BAGHDAD, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The secular Iraqiya slate in Iraq should participate in the next Iraqi government no matter who is in charge, the Iraqi foreign minister said.
Iraq is moving toward 230 days since March 7 elections secured a two-seat victory for the Iraqiya slate of former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Allawi says Iraqi law gives him the right to form the next government first, though he lacks the 163-seat majority to do so alone.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, wrapped up a tour of the Middle East this week, a visit that followed a trip to Tehran where he won the support of the Iranians for a second term in office.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency following the visit last week that he appreciated Iran's support for political developments in Iraq.
"The Islamic republic of Iran has always supported democratic changes in Iraq," he said.
In an interview with London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, he said that no matter who takes the lead in the next Iraqi government, Iraqiya and its supporters must play a role.
"We cannot proceed forward without the Iraqiya list that has a huge presence among the people," he said. "It should participate in one way or another."
Iraq leaders are trying to persuade Kurdish officials to back one of the two competing alliances trying to hit the 163 mark needed to form a government.
"I will not set a time ceiling," said Zebari. "In my opinion, however, and as a negotiator with the blocs, I can say in the next two weeks (a government will develop)."