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Iran Supreme Leader Urges Iraqi Government To Overcome Deadlock

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Tehran on October 18.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on the rival Iraqi political factions to overcome seven months of deadlock and form a new government.

The call was made as the incumbent Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, visited Tehran on October 18 as part of a campaign to seek regional support for a new term for his Shi'ite-led coalition.

Iran's Shi'ite regime has deep ties to neighboring Iraq's major Shi'ite factions, dating back to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's rule.

Al-Maliki's coalition has recently appeared close to possibly securing enough allies to attain a majority in parliament -- despite finishing a close second in the March elections behind the Sunni-backed bloc of former prime minister Iyad Allawi.

Allawi has recently accused Tehran of trying to interfere in the Iraqi political process.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the United States remains concerned about what he called Iranian "meddling" in the Iraqi political process. He said the United States hopes Iraqis will solve the political impasse for the benefit of Iraqis, not another country.

"Our concerns about Iran and its meddling in Iraq's affairs are longstanding,” Crowley said. “But...we would expect the Iraqi government to work on behalf of its own citizens and not on behalf of another country."

The United States has not publicly backed any candidate to lead the next Iraqi government, instead urging that the next government be formed in a way that all Iraq's groups are represented.

compiled from agency reports