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Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president and head of the new National Security Council (file photo) (AFP)
March 19, 2006 -- Leaders of Iraq's largest political factions today agreed to form a National Security Council to advise the new government, once it is formed.
The 19-member council will be headed by President Jalal Talabani.
According to Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaymi, the council will have nine Shi'ite members, four Kurds, and four Sunnis, with the two remaining seats being reserved for the secular bloc in parliament.
Al-Dulaymi said talks on forming a government will not resume until March 25 because of Shi'ite and Kurdish holidays this week.
Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims have already gathered in the city of Karbala ahead of a festival marking the fortieth and final day of mourning for Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
Thousands of extra police have been deployed to avert potential attacks.
At least 13 people were killed today in violence around Iraq.
(compiled from agency reports)