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Iraqi legislators approve Maliki as P.M.

BAGHDAD, April 22 (UPI) -- Iraq's Parliament ratified the selection of Jawad al-Maliki as prime minister on Saturday, ending a four-month political deadlock.

Members of Parliament also approved Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as president and Mahmoud al-Meshhedani, a Sunni, as speaker, dividing the top leadership posts among the country's three major factions, The New York Times reported. Their deputies were also confirmed.

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Maliki, under Iraq's constitution, has 30 days to select a cabinet.

The new prime minister promised an end to the divisions that have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis in recent weeks.

"We are going to form a family that will not be based on sectarian or ethnic backgrounds," he told reporters at a news conference.

Saturday's voting followed weeks of stalemate as Sunni and Kurdish leaders refused to accept former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and he refused to step aside. Following recent negotiations, Jaafari finally gave up.

Political leaders met for 30 minutes with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad before the final vote.

"It's all been cooked, all the ingredients are there," he said when he emerged. "The temperature is just right."

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