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Iraq's Kurdish Alliance Continues Coalition Talks

BAGHDAD -- A top Iraqi Kurdish politician says the Kurds will join forces with whichever national political bloc proves "most responsive" to their demands, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Adel Barwari, a leading member of the Kurdistan Alliance, told RFI that former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Al-Iraqiyah list is the furthest from meeting these demands, while current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law (SoL) bloc is the most accommodating.

He added that out of 19 demands presented by the Kurds to the major factions, the SoL has already agreed to 17, and the remaining two are being negotiated.

Barwari said the two demands still under discussion are Article 140 of the constitution providing for resolving the issue of oil-rich, multiethnic Kirkuk and other disputed areas, and the national census.

Meanwhile, Muhammad al-Bayati, a leading member of the Shi'ite Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (SICI), told RFI that while the SICI may be opposed to nominating al-Maliki for a second term, they will remain a member of the National Alliance with SoL, the second major Shi'ite bloc.

He said the SICI will support whichever prime ministerial candidate wins a majority of votes in parliament when it convenes.

The March 7 parliamentary elections were inconclusive, with Al-Iraqiyah, SoL, and the Iraqi National Alliance winning 91, 89, and 70 seats, respectively, in the 325-seat parliament.

The Kurdish factions have 57 seats between them, including 43 held by the Kurdistan Alliance that comprises the two major Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by the Kurdish region's president, Masud Barzani.