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Khalilzad On Iraq

The two-hundred-seventy-five members of the Iraqi national assembly are forming a new government. A coalition of Shiite parties hold one-hundred-thirty seats. Parties representing Iraqi Kurds, Sunnis, and others hold the remainder.

"Bargaining over specific roles," says Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, "will be tough and contentious." Mr. Khalilzad says there is a "need to form a government of national unity":

"Ministers, particularly security ministers, have to be people who are non-sectarian, who are broadly acceptable, who do not represent, or have ties to militias. This is the single most important issue that Iraq faces."

"This is a moment of opportunity," says Mr. Khalilzad. Iraqi Sunnis are actively participating in the political process. In the December 2005 elections, Sunnis turned out in large numbers. "To build on this progress," says Mr. Khalilzad, Iraq's leaders now need to agree on a process to unite the country."

Iraqi transitional prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was nominated by the Shiite coalition to hold the same post in the new government. Mr. Al-Jaafari says that problems are not "insurmountable." The Iraqi Sunnis, says Mr. Al-Jaafari, had not been represented well in the [transitional] parliament . . . . Now," he says, "this obstacle has been removed and the Sunnis are now taking part in the national assembly."

"Elected leaders need to govern from the center, not from ideological extremes," says U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad. In Iran, he says, "Getting the next government right is far more important than getting it formed fast."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.