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Iraq Prime Minister Visits Shiite Cleric - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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NAJAF, Iraq, AP -Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met here Friday with the country”s top Shiite Muslim cleric and the two were expected to discuss the country”s new constitution, which is slated to be finished in 10 days.

Al-Jaafari arrived amid tight security and went straight into the home of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani near Shiite Islam”s holiest shrine in Iraq.

Al-Sistani is highly influential among the country”s Shiite majority, which makes up 60 percent of Iraq”s population.

The prime minister was expected to talk with him about developments before the country”s political leaders meet to discuss points of disagreements on the constitution.

Humam Hammoudi, chairman of the 71-member committee drafting the constitution, had called political leaders from the Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Shiite communities to meet Friday to see if they can forge compromises in order to finish the document by the Aug. 15 deadline.

But Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the committee, said Friday that the meeting was postponed until Sunday.

Among the key points of disagreement on the constitution are the role of Islam, Iraq”s identity, federalism and the country”s language.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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