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Iran Supports Choice For New Iraq Prime Minister


Obama Calls Nomination Of New Iraq PM 'Promising Step'
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WATCH: U.S. President Barack Obama cautiously backs the nomination of a new Iraqi prime minister.

Iran, a key ally of Iraq's embattled Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said it supports the nomination of Haidar al-Abadi to replace Maliki as premier.

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Council, said on August 12 that "the framework provided by the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that the prime minister has been chosen by the majority group in the parliament."

Maliki, a Shi'ite, had enjoyed the support of Shi'ite Iran, but officials had recently said that Tehran believed Maliki was no longer able to hold the country together.

Shamkhani called on "all groups and coalitions in Iraq to protect the national interest," taking into account the need to "deal with external threats."

Saudi Arabia and Turkey have also announced their support for a new government in Iraq.

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Abadi's nomination as a "promising step forward."

Speaking from his holiday retreat in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Obama urged Abadi on August 11 to form a new "inclusive" cabinet "as quickly as possible."

He acknowledged that Iraq had been through "difficult days" and urged the country's political leaders to work together.

Obama's statement markedly left out any mention of Maliki.

Speaking in Sydney on August 12, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, called on Abadi to quickly form an inclusive government.

"We are urging him to form a new cabinet as swiftly as possible and the U.S. stands ready to support a new and inclusive Iraqi government and particularly its fight against ISIL," Kerry said.

Abadi has 30 days to present a cabinet to parliament for approval.

Maliki, who has refused calls to step down, described Abadi's nomination as a "violation of the constitution" and on August 12 warned Iraq's military to stay out of a "political crisis" over who would form the next government.

Iraq's premier since 2006, Maliki has been serving in a caretaker capacity since an inconclusive election in April.

He has been accused of fueling sectarian violence as the country is battling an Islamist insurgency.

The United States has launched air strikes to support Kurdish Peshmerga forces battling fighters from the Islamic State around Irbil, the regional capital of the autonomous Kurdish region.

But Obama said on August 11 that there is "no American military solution to the crisis."

"The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government," he added.

The militants have seized large swaths of territory in northern and western Iraq since they began their offensive in June.

Senior U.S. officials said on August 11 that the United States has begun directly providing weapons to the Kurdish forces.

Obama authorized air strikes to protect U.S. interests and personnel in the region -- including at facilities in Irbil -- as well as Yazidi and Christian refugees fleeing the militants' advance.

As well as the air strikes, the United States has conducted air drops of essential supplies to Yazidi people stuck in a mountainous area.

Kerry said in Sydney on August 12 that the United States and Australia had agreed to take concerns about the threat posed by jihadist foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere to the United Nations.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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