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Selection Of Iraqi Council Delayed One Day

17 August 2004 -- Iraq's political and religious leaders meeting in Baghdad have postponed until 18 August the selection of a 100-member national council.

The chairman of the conference, Fu'ad Mas'um, made the announcement as delegates sought to reach a consensus on the council's membership.

The national council would oversee the interim Iraqi government until elections scheduled for January 2005. More than 1,000 religious, political, and civic leaders have attended the conference in Baghdad.

The conference was overshadowed by continued fighting in Al-Najaf between followers of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and U.S. forces. The conference today sent an eight-member delegation to Al-Najaf to try to persuade al-Sadr to abandon his uprising and join the political movement.

In Baghdad today, insurgents fired a mortar killing at least seven and injuring more than 40 people. Separately, the U.S. military said a U.S. soldier was killed and several were wounded in clashes with Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad.