Iran`s President praises Iraqi government deal

Iran has the power to sway political fortunes in its neighbour, Iraq.

Tehran: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has praised Iraqi moves to form a new government that would keep in power politicians with close ties to Tehran, state media reported.

The official IRNA news agency said Ahmadinejad spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani by telephone to congratulate them on the agreement Iraqi lawmakers reached this week that brings all of Iraq`s major political blocs into a new government led by al-Maliki.

IRNA said Ahmadinejad told Talabani that the formation of a new government "is a great victory for the Iraqi people”. In a separate telephone conservation with al-Maliki, the Iranian President said Tehran "is ready for cooperation and the expansion of relations with its friendly neighbour”.

Iran plays a critical role in Iraqi affairs and has the power to sway political fortunes in its neighbour through its deep ties to Iraq`s major Shi’ite factions, which have dominated the government and security forces since the US-led invasion toppled Iran`s arch foe Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The power-sharing deal in Iraq announced on Wednesday ended an eight-month impasse that had stalled the formation of a new government and threatened to re-ignite sectarian violence.

Under the agreement, al-Maliki got the prime minister`s job, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, returned as president, and the Sunni-backed Iraqiya block got the Parliament speaker`s post. Iraqiya is also supposed to head a council intended to serve as a check on al-Maliki`s powers. That job is supposed to go to the head of Iraqiya, Ayad Allawi.

Talabani has nominated al-Maliki to form the new government. Al-Maliki now has a month to allocate ministerial posts.