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Iraq's Jaafari talks politics with Kurds

ERBIL, Iraq, April 12 (UPI) -- Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met with Kurdish officials to discuss a national partnership as alliances take shape for the next government.

Iraq had parliamentary elections March 7. The secular Iraqiya slate of former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi won a narrow victory over the State of Law coalition of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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None of the alliances won the 163 seats needed in 325-member Parliament to unilaterally form a new government, however.

Jaafari met during the weekend with Nechirvan Barzani, the deputy leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, to discuss the political situation in the wake of the March 7 contest, the Voices of Iraq news agency reports.

"The two officials have discussed the developments in the political process and the formation of coalitions between the winning blocs in an attempt to speed up the formation of a national partnership government without the exclusion of any political party," a statement from Jaafari's office read.

Supporters of anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr had a non-binding referendum for prime minister in early April. The ballot included Jaafari, Maliki, political newcomer Jaafar al-Sadr, Allawi and Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi. Write-in candidates were allowed.

A spokesman for Sadr's political movement said Jaafari won the informal contest with 24 percent of the vote. Maliki and Allawi finished near the bottom.

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