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UPDATED: 13:12, December 23, 2004
Iraqi parliamentary elections to be held as scheduled
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Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in Amman on Wednesday that the Iraqi parliamentary elections will be held as scheduled on Jan. 30, 2005,the state-run Petra News Agency reported.

Allawi arrived in Amman on Wednesday afternoon for a short visit to Jordan. During his stay, he held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II and senior Jordanian officials on ways to further enhance bilateral relations in various fields, the report said.

He also met with Iraqis in Jordan in a bid to gather maximum participation in the upcoming elections. Allawi said, "Our aim is to reunite all the Iraqis for comprehensive elections."

But violence has continued in Iraq, raising concerns the elections will have to be delayed.

On Tuesday, a blast at a US military base in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul killed 22 people and injured 72 when hundreds of US military soldiers and Iraqi security forces were having lunch. The attack was one of the deadliest attacks on US troops since the start of the war.

Of the 22 people killed, 18 were American soldiers or civilian contractors, three Iraqi security forces members and one unidentified person.

The radical Sunni Muslim group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed responsibility through the Internet hours after the explosion.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan called on Arabs in Iraq to unite behind their Arab identity before the Jan. 30 elections.

"We must preserve the Arab identity of Iraq, which unites Shiites and Sunnis," visiting Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulqi said at a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit.

"The Arab identity of Iraq guarantees self-determination of minorities... We want an Arab and Islamic and we don't want to politicize religion," Mulqi said.

He added the meeting of Iraq's neighbors scheduled for Jan. 15 in Amman, which will also include Egypt, will determine whether conditions for the Iraqi elections have been met.

Source: Xinhua

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