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Iraqi President Says Constitutional Accord Near

Talabani (file photo) 13 August 2005 -- Iraqi interim President Jalal Talabani said today that lawmakers have overcome most points of disagreement on the country's new constitution.

Talabani said he believes the constitution will be ready before the deadline on 15 August. The Iraqi leader told reporters in Baghdad that there is a meeting today and another round of talks tomorrow. He said the meetings now are concentrating on federalism in Shi'ite areas of central and southern Iraq, as well as the role of Islam in the state.

Sunni, Kurdish, and Shi'ite political leaders have been meeting for days in an attempt to find solutions to major points of disagreements.

Sunni Arabs have rejected federalism, fearing it could lead to dividing Iraq. The Sunnis have agreed to the continued existence of the Kurdish federated state in the north but were outraged by Shi'ite demands on 11 August for their own self- governing region.

Meanwhile, violence continued in Iraq. Naser Jumia, an eyewitness, spoke to reporters today about a roadside bombing by insurgents that wounded five Iraqi soldiers.

"The Iraqi army [patrols] were driving here at 11 o'clock [0700 GMT]," she said. "The bomb went off when the first vehicle drove past and wounded five Iraqi soldiers. [The Iraqi army] towed away the vehicle and shortly afterward the Americans arrived."

The bombing was close to their patrol in Baghdad's eastern sprawling slum of Sadr City.