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Iraq Delays Debate On Federalism --> (RFE/RL) September 10, 2006 -- Leaders of Iraq's parliamentary blocs today decided to delay until next week a debate on the proposed division of the country into autonomous regions.

Bassem Sharif, spokesman of the Al-Fadhila party, one of the factions within the main Shi'ite bloc that leads the government, said today that "the discussion on the draft law on the mechanism and procedures to reform Iraq's governorates has been delayed to next week."

U.S. President George W. Bush says dividing Iraq into three separate regions - Kurdish, Shi'ite and Sunni - with a central government in Baghdad would be a mistake.

Bush told the newspaper the "Wall Street Journal" on September 9 that Iraqis did not vote for partition when they approved a new constitution and government.

Meanwhile, officials in Iran said today that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may delay the date of his first official visit to Tehran, scheduled for September 11.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, said in Tehran today that the timing of al-Maliki's visit may be determined later today.

Asefi cited a potential conflict with travel plans by Iran's president and foreign minister as the reason for the change.

(compiled from agency reports)

Iraq's Kurdish Region

KURDISH AWAKENING: The ethnic Kurdish region in the northern part of Iraq has struggled in recent years to reestablish its cultural and political identity after decades of oppression under the regime of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. In December, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel traveled to this area and filed several reports:

Relative Peace Underscores Issue Of Kurdish Region's Future

Kurdish Culture Begins To Flourish In Kurdistan Region

Kurds Ponder How To Strengthen Autonomy After Elections

Irbil’s Kurds Live On A Hill Of Undiscovered Treasures

THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of events in Iraq and that country's ongoing transition.