Britain welcomes Iraqi government
Britain has welcomed the formation of a new government in Iraq after nine months of haggling following inconclusive elections in March.
The new national unity government led by Shi'ite incumbent prime minister Nouri Maliki was sworn in after being approved by a vote in the Baghdad parliament.
But disagreements among coalition partners prevented Mr Maliki from filling 13 of the posts in his 42-member Cabinet.
Mr Maliki said the new government would combat terrorism, address sectarian divisions and repair relations with neighbouring Arab countries, many of which are Sunni-dominated and suspicious of the Shi'ite-led administration in Baghdad.
US president Barack Obama called the formation of the government a "significant moment" in the country's history and a "clear rejection" of sectarian extremism.
And Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I welcome the fact that a new government has now been formed in Iraq and approved by the Iraqi parliament.
"This will reinforce stability in Iraq and allow Iraq's political leaders to work together for the benefit of their country and people.
"We hope the new government will now focus on resolving the pressing economic, political and security issues still facing Iraq. The United Kingdom stands ready to support the Iraqi government and people in this effort."
The March 7 elections did not give any bloc a majority in the 325-member parliament. Mr Maliki's coalition finished second behind a Sunni-backed grouping led by former PM Ayad Allawi, but it was Mr Maliki who was eventually able to secure majority support in the new parliament.
The new government includes members of all of Iraq's major political and sectarian factions, including Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.