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Iraqi Lawmakers Create Committee to Amend Constitution

  • VOA News

Iraqi lawmakers have set up a committee to review and amend the constitution -- a move sought by minority Sunni Arabs.

Members of parliament voted on Monday to create the 27-member committee made up of Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Officials expect to appoint the members on Tuesday.

The constitution review committee is part of a two-step compromise reached Sunday that is aimed at ending political deadlock.

On Tuesday, Iraqi lawmakers are expected to start work on the second part of the deal -- a Shi'ite proposal to establish federal regions largely along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Parliament is scheduled to begin debating the measure Tuesday, but even if it passes, legislators have already agreed the law would not go into effect for 18 months.

Meanwhile, the US military announced it has extended the combat tours of at least three-thousand-500 American soldiers in Iraq.

Officials said the troops affected are serving in the area around Ramadi and will remain deployed for several weeks beyond their scheduled departure.

The United States has more than 140-thousand troops in Iraq.

In an interview with a US newspaper "The Washington Post" published on Monday Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he would like the United States to keep at least two air bases and 10-thousand troops in Iraq in the long term.

The Iraqi Kurd said he wants US forces to remain to prevent what he described as "foreign interference" in the country.

He also said that in some parts of Iraq, Sunni Muslims want the Americans to stay, because they fear the influence of Iran, a majority Shi'ite country.

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