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Iraq Parliament Approves National Unity Government


Iraq's parliament has approved a new government made up of Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lawmakers after months of negotiations.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet took the oath of office Saturday, vowing to make the restoration of security their top priority, and to set a timetable for training Iraqi security forces and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

President Bush and other world leaders welcomed the development. Mr. Bush said the government marks the end of Iraq's difficult and inspiring democratic transitional process.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also praised Iraqis for forming their government despite violence across the country.

In the worst violence Saturday, Iraqi officials say at least 19 people were killed and 58 others were wounded in the Shi'ite district of Sadr City in the capital, Baghdad.

Elsewhere, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a police station in the town of Qaim, near the border with Syria, killing five policemen and wounding 10 others.

Mr. al-Maliki told parliament he will temporarily run the Interior Ministry and he named Sunni Arab Deputy Prime Minister-designate Salam al-Zaubai as a temporary defense minister. Outgoing Minister of Planning Barham Saleh, a Kurd, was named acting minister of national security affairs.

Several Sunni legislators walked out of parliament after hearing that the permanent security ministers would not be chosen at this session.

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