Iraqi officials say Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki will submit his Cabinet for parliamentary approval on Saturday after months of political wrangling.
The critical posts of interior and defense minister are yet to be finalized. But officials say the Cabinet may be presented on Saturday with or without a decision on those two positions.
Parliament must approve Mr. al-Maliki's appointments before Iraq's first full-term administration since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein can take office. The prime minister's 30-day deadline for forming a government expires on Monday.
The United States says a unified Iraqi government is key to ending sectarian violence and insurgent attacks.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a U.S. Senate committee he could not promise there will be a U.S. troop withdrawal in Iraq this year.
The head U.S. military officer, General Peter Pace, told the same panel he did not believe U.S. troops could leave any of Iraq's provinces within the next three months.
In other news, Iraqi security forces are searching for a United Arab Emirates diplomat who was kidnapped Tuesday in western Baghdad.
And Saddam Hussein returned to court Wednesday to hear testimony from defense witnesses for some of his co-defendants. The trial was later adjourned until Monday.
The ousted Iraqi leader and seven others are accused of crimes against humanity for the 1982 killings of 148 Shi'ites from the village of Dujail.