Obama asks Shiite cleric to help settle Iraq impasse: Report

President Barack Obama has sent a letter to Iraq`s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urging him to persuade the country`s squabbling political leaders to form a new government.

Washington: President Barack Obama has sent a
letter to Iraq`s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani,
urging him to persuade the country`s squabbling political
leaders to form a new government, Foreign Policy magazine
reported on Friday.

The magazine`s online edition, which cited an unnamed
individual briefed by members of the cleric`s family as its
source, said that the letter was delivered to Sistani by a
Shiite member of the Iraqi Parliament.

Obama sent the letter shortly after a failed attempt by
Vice President Joe Biden to settle the dispute over the new
government during a visit to Baghdad July 4, the report said.

A White House spokesman had no comment on the report, and
a spokesman for Sistani`s office in Najaf also declined to
comment.

The political impasse in Iraq comes as US forces are
drawing down their numbers to 50,000 troops by the end of the
month despite simmering political violence.

Former prime minister Iyad Allawi`s party edged out a
coalition led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in March
parliamentary elections, but neither won a majority and
negotiations on a new government have stalled.

PTI

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