Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric has called on the nation's political blocks to agree on the next prime minister before the newly elected parliament convenes on July 1.
A cleric representing Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani told worshippers in the holy city of Karbala that Sistani also wants political factions to agree on the next parliament speaker and the president before the legislature's inaugural session.
Iraq's political leaders have been under growing pressure, including from the United States, to form an inclusive government following April parliament elections after Sunni militants seized large parts of northern and western Iraq.
Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has rebuffed the calls, but on June 26 conceded that political measures along with military action were needed to defeat the rebels, led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an Al-Qaeda offshoot.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters