Biden calls new Iraqi speaker

McClatchy Washington BureauJuly 15, 2014 

Vice President Joe Biden called Salim al-Jabouri to congratulate him Tuesday on his selection as the next Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the White House said.

The Iraqi parliament named the moderate Islamist Sunni politician as new speaker on Tuesday, state television reported, a first step toward creating a power sharing government that the Obama administration has championed.

The White House says Biden and al-Jabouri “agreed on the importance of acting quickly, consistent with constitutional timelines, to form a new government capable of uniting Iraqi communities in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”

It said the two also discussed the efforts required to address what the White House said are the “legitimate grievances of all communities” through the political process.

“They both reaffirmed the importance of the strategic relationship between the United States and Iraq,” the White House said, adding that Biden “made clear that the United States looks forward to working closely with Speaker al-Jabouri.”

The administration has been pressing the Iraqi government to create a more inclusive government, but it was unclear whether Jabouri‘s selection as speaker signaled a broader power-sharing deal between the Shiite Muslim political bloc of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and his Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite detractors.

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