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Allawi says "religious body at one distance to all"

BAGHDAD, May 23 (KUNA) -- Iraq's Iraqiya List leader Ayad Allawi said here Sunday the religious authority in Najaf was standing within the same distance to all forces.
Allawi made the remarks at a news conference following his meeting with chief Shiite clergyman Ali Al-Sistani, saying that the religious authority called for forming a national government involving all forces.
He hailed this position as a sign of insistence on ensuring national unity and on finding a way out of the current post-election cul-de-sac.
"The religious authority is keen on spreading amity and peace among all Iraqi communities," he said.
In a related development, Allawi said he would meet caretaker Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who leads the State of Law coalition, in the next few days.
Since he won the recent general polls, Allawi has been seeking to form a new Iraqi government, showing resolve that many problems and obstacles hindering a government makeup could be wiped out.
The situation in the country remains tense after elections in March, with no bloc having yet assembled a majority to form a government.
Iraqi leaders are under pressure to quicken the pace of forming a new government as the US eyes a deadline of August 31 to withdraw about half of the 94,000 troops on the ground.
The shape of the new leadership will determine how fast and how extensively Iraq, holder of the world's third-largest oil reserves, can develop its economy, and to what degree sectarian violence can be avoided.
Maliki's State of Law group had won 89 seats to former Prime Minister Allawi's 91 in the recent Iraqi elections. (end) mhj.mt KUNA 231959 May 10NNNN