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Iraqi Constitution Talks Continue, Estonian Soldier Killed

Baghdad, 29 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council are continuing discussions on drafting an interim constitution amid reports that there are still key differences.

Differences remain on key issues, including the status of Kurdish areas in the north, women's rights, and the role Islamic Shari'a law will play in the country. Reports say council members are hopeful of reaching an agreement sometime today.

The deadline for approving the document -- which will guide Iraq until a permanent constitution is in place -- expired yesterday.

A signing ceremony, which had been scheduled for today, may now be postponed until 3 March, the end of a Shi'a Muslim holiday.

In other Iraq news, an Estonian soldier with the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad has been killed by a roadside bomb. Estonian authorities said the soldier was taking part in a foot patrol when the bomb exploded.

Estonian Prime Minister Juhan Parts said the soldier's death -- the first Estonian fatality in Iraq -- was a "painful reminder" of the need to re-establish peace and security in the country.