Maliki confident of Iraq govt 'soon'

2010-10-20 18:05

Cairo - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in Cairo on a regional tour to rally support for his candidacy, said on Wednesday his country would "soon" have a new government, seven months after an inconclusive poll.

"Discussions are taking place, we are now at the end of the tunnel, at the end of the road," Maliki told reporters after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"If God allows, this government will emerge soon," said the premier, who flew in to Egypt late on Tuesday after similar visits to Iraq neighbours Syria, Jordan and Iran.

Maliki has been fighting to retain his post after a March 7 general election which produced no clear winner.

His Shi'ite-led State of Law bloc finished a narrow second behind the Sunni-backed Iraqiya group of former prime minister Iyad Allawi with whom Maliki is locked in a protracted battle for the premiership.

Maliki said he and Mubarak had discussed the role of Egyptian companies in the multi-billion-dollar reconstruction of Iraq.

"We need to have agreements with friendly countries for them to be partners of Iraq in the reconstruction process," he said, pledging to cut the red tape for Egyptian firms doing business in his country.

Insecurity is "a phase which we have passed," said Maliki, vowing to ensure "100%" security at the workplace.

He said the rebuilding of war-battered Iraq required a strong government at the helm in Baghdad and one with "developed relations with neighbouring countries, with brother countries, and solid political relations."

Iraq wants "friendly countries to stand by our side, but at the same time we do not want anyone to interfere in the process of forming our new government," said Maliki, calling for "impartiality" and "balance" from outside states.