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Iraqi President: Constitution Will Be Ready On Time

President Jalal Talabani (file photo) 7 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told hundreds of Shi'ite clerics today that a draft of the country's new constitution would be completed by next month's deadline.

Talabani made his comments shortly after meeting with leading Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Al-Najaf, some 160 kilometers south of the capital Baghdad.

He said he is confident that Shiite and Kurdish legislators will cooperate in drafting the constitution.

Talabani said that all Iraqis will participate in drafting the constitution including representatives from the Sunni Arab community, whose members boycotted January's general elections.

The draft is to be finalized by 15 August so it can be ready for a referendum two months later. A new constitution must be ready before fresh elections in December.

On the ground, at least 11 people have been killed in the explosion of two car bombs in Jbala, near Hilla south of Baghdad.


For RFE/RL's full coverage of developments in Iraq, see "The New Iraq"

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