BAGHDAD -- A high-ranking Iraqi official says Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc has made a key offer in an attempt to break the five-month deadlock over forming a new government, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.
Khalid al-Asadi, a leading member of the Shi'ite-led State of Law, told RFE/RL on August 12 that the bloc had offered the Al-Iraqiyah bloc led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi the post of parliament speaker and the chairmanship of a strategic-policy council that will have executive powers in return for nominating Maliki to a second term as prime minister.
He added that his bloc is waiting for Al-Iraqiyah's response to the offer, and "if they accept it will signal the end of the impasse."
State of Law and Al-Iraqiyah -- the top two vote-getting parties in the March 7 parliamentary elections -- have been unable to find an acceptable power-sharing arrangement.
But Muhammad al-Bayati, a leading official of the Iraqi National Alliance, the other major Shi'ite bloc, told RFE/RL that State of Law had been officially informed that talks with them will be conclusively broken off if they do not agree to drop Maliki and replace him with another candidate for prime minister.
He said if State of Law failed to meet this condition, his bloc would initiate talks with Al-Iraqiyah and the Kurdish bloc.
Asadi replied that these statements were views held by certain individuals and did not represent the Iraqi National Alliance's readiness to continue its talks with Maliki's bloc.
Mahmud Othman, a leading member of the Kurdish bloc, told RFE/RL that the Kurds have circulated to the respective political factions a "road map" for national partnership, including settlement of all outstanding issues between the Kurdish regional government and Baghdad. He did not elaborate on the proposal.
Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill said in a National Public Radio interview from Baghdad on August 12 that the pace of political progress in Iraq had accelerated in recent weeks and that "things may be heading in the right direction."
The parliamentary elections were inconclusive, with Al-Iraqiyah, State of Law, and the Iraqi National Alliance winning 91, 89, and 70 seats, respectively, in the 325-seat parliament.