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Baghdad balks at outside help

BAGHDAD, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- There is no outside pressure underlying the political stalemate entering its sixth month in Iraq, a government spokesman said Monday.

Iraq has been without a government since March 7 election when the secular Iraqiya slate scored a two-seat victory over the State of Law coalition of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Iraqiya didn't secure the majority needed to form a government alone and lawmakers have since been at odds over candidates for president, speaker of parliament and prime minister.

Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for Maliki and top official in the Dawa Party, called in Iraq's neighbors to respect the country's sovereignty.

In an interview with the Voices of Iraq new agency, Dabbagh said there was no basis to suggestions that Iran was meddling in the affairs of Baghdad.

"These news (reports) are baseless," he was quoted as saying.

Maliki and his top political rivals have been in and out of negotiations on the best way to form a new government since the March 7 election.

Washington, which is to pull its last combat troops out of Iraq at the end of this month, has been trying to broker a power-sharing agreement between Iraqiya and State of Law for months.

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Iyad Allawi, the Shiite leader of the Iraqiya slate, said in an interview with the Financial Times that negotiations with State of Law were set to continue.

"We are working toward the most relevant (option) from our point and the most relevant is the two largest blocs … and not excluding anybody," he said from Baghdad.

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