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Anti-U.S. Cleric May Support Interim Iraqi Government

12 June 2004 -- Radical Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has said he will support Iraq's new interim government, if it works to end the U.S.-led military presence in Iraq.

An al-Sadr aide delivered a sermon on al-Sadr's behalf yesterday, saying that al-Sadr is ready to hold a dialogue with the new government when it assumes power at the end of this month. Al-Sadr's statement called on the government to set a schedule for U.S. withdrawal.

Militiamen loyal to al-Sadr have been leading an insurgency against U.S.-led forces.

Early today, assassins shot dead Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Bassam Salih Kubba in an ambush.

Also today, Lebanese officials said a Lebanese citizen and two of his Iraqi colleagues were found dead. They had been taken hostage on 10 June.

And captors reportedly have released seven Turkish contractors after taking them hostage in Al-Fallujah earlier this week.