14 March 2005 -- Kurdish and Shi'ite leaders are meeting today in Baghdad to continue talks on forming a coalition government.
The talks follow parliamentary elections on 30 January that gave the Shi'ite alliance a majority of seats in parliament but not the two-thirds majority needed to form a government.
An alliance of Kurdish parties placed second.
Reports say talks are difficult and have been bogged down by the status of the ethnically divided city of Kirkuk.
Ali al-Dabagh, a spokesman for the Shi'ite alliance, said he is optimistic a final deal can be reached before parliament meets on 16 March.
(AP/AFP)For the latest news and analysis on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".