16 August 2004 -- More than 1,000 Iraqi political and religious leaders are meeting for a second day today in Baghdad to select an interim national assembly.
The assembly, expected to be chosen by 17 August, is envisioned as overseeing the interim government and helping prepare for elections planned for January 2005.
The opening day of the conference on 15 August was marked by several mortar attacks near the meeting site in the heavily secured "Green Zone." At least two people were reported killed.
Elsewhere, Iraqi authorities have ordered all journalists to leave the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Al-Najaf amid a renewed U.S.-led offensive against militants there.
Shooting was reported on 15 August around Al-Najaf's Imam Ali Shrine, where radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his supporters have taken shelter.
The interim Iraqi authorities have vowed to restore order in Al-Najaf and have demanded the unconditional surrender of fighters loyal to al-Sadr.
(Reuters/AP/AFP)For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".